Mon, Jan 27, 2014 - Page 14 News List

Google Inc unit loses antitrust suit against LCD makers

PRICE FIXING:Claims where the majority of economic activity took place outside the US are barred by antitrust law, a judge ruled on Thursday


Google Inc’s Motorola Mobility unit has lost most of an antitrust lawsuit against Samsung Electronics Ltd, Sharp Corp and other LCD makers who it accused of a pricing conspiracy.

The mobile-phone maker claimed it was hurt by the defendants’ fixing of prices for displays bought by Motorola affiliates outside the US and used in phones later sold inside and outside the country. A judge ruled that claims where the bulk of economic activity occurs outside the US are barred by antitrust law.

“The undisputed facts show that the transactions were overwhelmingly foreign in nature,” US Chicago District Judge Joan Gottschall said in a ruling on Thursday last week.

Motorola claimed the defendants engaged in a decade-long conspiracy to inflate panel prices.

Schaumburg, Illinois-based Motorola Inc filed the case in 2009 before spinning off its mobile-phone making division, which was later acquired by Google.

Gottschall, citing defense filings, said that more than 99 percent of the LCD purchases at issue were made by Motorola’s foreign affiliates, which later assigned their claims to the US-based company.

“Less than 1 percent of the US$5.4 billion in commerce at issue here — US$43 million — actually involves sales to Motorola in the United States,” defense lawyers said in a Sept. 20 court filing.

“We disagree with the court’s ruling and are considering next steps,” Libertyville, Illinois-based Motorola Mobility spokesman Will Moss said in a statement.

Other suits have alleged similar conspiracies. In 2012, a judge imposed a US$500 million fine on Hsinchu-based AU Optronics Corp (友達光電) for colluding with rivals to fix LCD prices.

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