BREAKING: AT&T suing LCD makers for alleged price fixing during 1996

This just hit the Dow Jones Newswire, emphasis added by me:

AT&T has sued AU Optronics, LG Display, Samsung Electronics and other liquid-crystal display makers alleging price-fixing in the LCD market.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, alleges a “long-running conspiracy” from Jan. 1, 1996, to Dec. 11, 1996, to fix, raise, stabilize and maintain the prices of LCD panels.

The complaint, filed by AT&T and its BellSouth and Pacific Bell units, Southwestern Bell Telephone and others, alleges the LCD makers formed an international cartel to illegally restrict competition in the U.S. for LCD panels.

South Korea’s LG Display, Sharp and Chunghwa Picture Tubes agreed last November to pay $585 million in criminal fines in a U.S. Justice Department probe of illegally price fixing on LCDs used in flat-screen televisions, cellphones and other devices. LG, Sharp and Chunghwa are all defendants in the AT&T lawsuit.

A unit of Japanese electronics manufacturer Hitachi agreed in March to plead guilty to price-fixing charges and pay a $31 million fine. Hitachi isn’t a defendant in the AT&T case.

The lawsuit claims AT&T purchased more than 300 million mobile wireless handsets for resale during the conspiracy period and the price of handsets containing LCD panels were artificially inflated as a result of the conspiracy.

A Sharp spokesman declined comment Wednesday. Spokespersons for LG, AU Optronics, Samsung and Chunghwa didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday after normal business hours in Asia.

Ummm, call me a daft prick (because I am), but isn’t it 2009 … a full 13 years after the alleged conspiracy theory took place?

[Hat tip to Phone Scoop]

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