Fri, Jun 09, 2006 - Page 11 News List

Taiwan chip firms facing US antitrust class action suit

BLOOMBERG

Micron Technology Inc, the largest US maker of computer-memory chips, and five other manufacturers must face a class action lawsuit over antitrust claims, a federal judge ruled.

US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in San Francisco approved the case as a class action on Monday, said Tony Shapiro, a lawyer representing 11 companies that filed the suit in 2002. The companies are suing on behalf of thousands of computer-repair shops and manufacturers that purchased chips from 1999 to 2002.

"Our claim is that prices to direct purchasers were artificially increased as a result of competitors communicating with each other," Shapiro said in an interview on Wednesday.

In addition to Micron, other companies facing the class action lawsuit are Tokyo-based Elpida Memory Inc and NEC Corp, and Taiwan-based Winbond Electronics Corp (華邦電子), Mosel Vitelic Inc (茂矽) and Nanya Technology Corp (南亞科技).

Three companies originally named in the suit, Samsung Electronics Co, Infineon Technologies AG and Hynix Semiconductor Inc, agreed last month to pay a combined US$160 million to resolve claims they conspired to drive up the price of computer memory. The settlements were the first stemming from civil lawsuits filed against memory makers claiming computer companies overpaid for DRAM, or dynamic random access memory, in the US.

Samsung and Hynix Semiconductor Inc, both based in South Korea, and Germany's Infineon, have paid US$645 million in fines as part of a separate Justice Department criminal probe of price fixing.

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