SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Some 32 states in the United States announced a $173 million
settlement with six DRAM manufacturers who "conspired in an illegal global
scheme to fix prices."
In 2006, the multi-state group, led by California, filed a complaint in
federal district court, alleging that consumers, state agencies, universities
and local governments were forced to pay illegally inflated prices for products
containing DRAM chips.
The DRAM manufacturers named in the suit were Micron Technology Inc., NEC
Electronics America Inc., Infineon Technologies A.G., Hynix Semiconductor Inc.,
Elpida Memory Inc. and Mosel-Vitelic Corp.
In the case, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and another company, Taiwan's
Winbond Electronics Corp., reached settlement for $113 million in 2007. In a
separate federal investigation, four companies--Samsung, Hynix, Infineon, and
Elpida--and 12 individuals pleaded guilty to criminal price-fixing.
In 2008, a second lawsuit was filed in the state court in San Francisco on
behalf of 96 local California government entities, including cities, counties,
school districts, special districts, and the University of California, all of
which had purchased computer equipment containing DRAM chips.
The settlement requires the companies to refrain from illegal price-fixing
and to conduct extensive employee-compliance training. The settlement must be
approved by the court.
In today's settlement, the defendants agreed to resolve both lawsuits, as
well as lawsuits by private plaintiffs, by paying $173 million over two years
plus interest to the affected consumers, schools and government offices.
The other states participating in the settlement are Arizona, Arkansas,
Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico,
New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode
Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia,
In May, memory chip makers, including Samsung, Hynix and Infineon whose
subsidiary Qimonda is now defunct, are expected to be fined by the European
Union for illegally fixing memory chip prices, according to reports.
The total fine is expected to be about 300 million euros (about $370
million), although it is expected that many of those accused will have accepted
the European Commission's proposed fine in return for a 10 percent discount, the
The other companies set to be fined are Elpida Memory Inc., NEC Electronics
Corp., Hitachi Ltd., Toshiba Corp., Mitsubishi Electric and Nanya Technology.
Micron is set to be exempt from a fine in return for being first to reveal
details about the cartel.