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Hitachi Fined $31 Million For LCD Price Fixing

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the pay-up dept.

Displays 135

MojoKid writes "The Japanese electronics manufacturer has just agreed to pay a staggering $31 million fine for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices in the sale of TFT-LCD panels sold to Dell, Inc. The United States Department of Justice made the proclamation, and details show that Hitachi has plead guilty to a one-count felony. The charge, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, blames Hitachi Displays Ltd., a subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd., with 'participating in a conspiracy to fix the prices of TFT-LCD sold to Dell for use in desktop monitors and notebook computers from April 1, 2001 through March 31, 2004.'"

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Fixed which way? (3, Interesting)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 5 years ago | (#27160527)

High or low? I guess it would be "dumping" if low...

Umm... "redundant" first post? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27161755)

Q: How can a "first post" be "redundant"? It's not much, but it certainly isn't the usual "first post" fare, right?
A: Moderators mod down posters they don't like.

AC just guessing here.

Re:Umm... "redundant" first post? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27162541)

Redundancy can occur inter-discussion as well as intra-discussion. But readers here of any modest length of time know not to try too hard to rationalize Slashdot moderation. Yes there's probably a few actual cases of stalking and harassment going on at any given time, but probably accounts for less than 1% of the moderations. It's probably about 20% sensible mods, a few percent of bizarre ones by people on drugs, and the remainder being your guess if you 's/posters/posts/'. Meaning the moderation system here is essentially useless. It's only good for filtering out non-groupthink, if that's your cup of tea.

Re:Umm... "redundant" first post? (0, Offtopic)

impaledsunset (1337701) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163943)

I'm not entirely sure about the meaning of "redundant" in English, but in my native language the word for redundant also means "unnecessary". While I wouldn't agree with such moderation of the grandparent post, but wouldn't an unnecessary and obvious post deserve a "redundant" moderation? If the information in the post is obvious to everyone, isn't it already redundant?

How Much? (5, Insightful)

Rik Rohl (1399705) | more than 5 years ago | (#27160569)

did they make more than $31 mil profit by fixing the prices? If they did then they got away with it.

Re:How Much? (3, Insightful)

justsomecomputerguy (545196) | more than 5 years ago | (#27160689)

Exactly! It's not like this is going to hurt their reputation in any significant way, so the fines HAVE to be higher than the illicit profits for them to have any real teeth.

Re:How Much? (2, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161821)

Since we can't put a corporation in jail, I suggest instead that they spend the same amount of time forced to operate as a 501c non-profit organization.

Re:How Much? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27163255)

Since we can't put a corporation in jail, I suggest instead that they spend the same amount of time forced to operate as a 501c non-profit organization.

I have a better idea, but one that requires a little setup. A corporation that hopes to get away with stuff like this should lose ALL patents and copyrights they currently own.

However we'd have to make sure there's no way for every company to just set up dummy holding corps for their patents that they'd then "license" back to themselves.

On the other hand, throwing stockholders in jail for what corporations are doing in -their-(the stockholders) best interest would probably be more entertaining. (And perhaps actually fix the problem.)

Re:How Much? (2)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163981)

Who said we can't? A corporation is a trust run by its board for its investors.
Put the board in prison or its Chairman.
That's what India and Russia do.

Re:How Much? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164499)

Put the board in prison or its Chairman.
That's what India and Russia do.

Fucking shooting them doesn't even work, they've been doing it in China as long as they've had guns (they were just whacking people with sharp things before that) and corruption still runs at least as rampant there as anywhere else.

Re:How Much? (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164565)

True to an extent.
But once you publicly execute the guys, the message gets through, and the activity's reduced to a great extent or the guys go underground.
If they underground, then they are illegals.

Re:How Much? (1)

phillips321 (955784) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161003)

yep, they defo got away with it. if you had http://www.rtfa.co.uk/ [rtfa.co.uk] you would have seen what other companies got hit with.

Re:How Much? (4, Informative)

hardburn (141468) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162145)

They've also been hit with criminal fines of over $585 million.

Re:How Much? (1)

enigma48 (143560) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165473)

This seemed a bit high to me, and I think the $585M is the total amount charged to all conspiring companies to date:

http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/41689/118/ [tgdaily.com]

$31M seems a little low but a) they plead guilty and b) they assisted in building the case against the other companies. Still, for a $70B (2006) market, even if they were a small player they seemed to have gotten off a bit easier than I'd expect.

Pay $31M, Made $300M (5, Insightful)

cc_pirate (82470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27160591)

Once again a corporation is allowed to steal and not pay back what it stole...

While an individual would have to pay every DIME back and then pay a penalty on TOP of that...

Pathetic

Re:Pay $31M, Made $300M (2, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27160617)

You know how much they made? Do you know the point of price fixing?

Re:Pay $31M, Made $300M (4, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27160707)

To be fair companies are people. Punitive charges don't make as much sense. Charging the people who made the decisions punitive amounts does and I believe they have/will do so. Hurting a company of thousands of employees for the actions of 2~3 people is pretty pointless. The people that made the decision will be replaced so it doesn't matter.

Re:Pay $31M, Made $300M (3, Interesting)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 5 years ago | (#27160845)

Those jobs might not exist if the company hadn't been price fixing. Lack of significant consequences means a lack of significant laws.

Re:Pay $31M, Made $300M (3, Insightful)

muszek (882567) | more than 5 years ago | (#27160903)

If the worst that can happen to our company is giving back what we stole, we're gonna do the naughty thing.

Re:Pay $31M, Made $300M (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161713)

Chance for monopoly means investors are willing to invest more of their money-->more R&D.

Re:Pay $31M, Made $300M (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27160961)

aren't

Re:Pay $31M, Made $300M (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161361)

Sounds like a broken window fallacy to me. All those jobs might not have existed if it weren't for the criminal behavior, so I don't understand the idea of just letting it go.

Re:Pay $31M, Made $300M (2, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161937)

No, pay back the full amount taken. But punitive fees for people can be much more than the cost of damage (in mp3s case many 1000x). I don't think wipeing a company of thousands of employees off the face of the earth is a good idea when the act was perpetrated by a select few. And as the article states the people directly involved are getting hefty fines AND prison time. So lesson learned without having to devalue the company.

Re:Pay $31M, Made $300M (2, Informative)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161541)

Not so fast, compadre - according to TFA, some guys from Chunghwa were sentenced to jail time and indictments have been handed down to LG execs.

Lousy summary - Hitachi didn't price fix by themselves, they had (above named) partners.

It is beginning to look like fines are only part of the picture here.

Re:Pay $31M, Made $300M (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27161657)

Technically, yes, a company is an individual. It should be tried as such, and not a body of others, as you suggest. That's the reason it's a registered company, so the employees aren't liable.

Re:Pay $31M, Made $300M (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162703)

To be fair companies are people. Punitive charges don't make as much sense. Charging the people who made the decisions punitive amounts does and I believe they have/will do so. Hurting a company of thousands of employees for the actions of 2~3 people is pretty pointless. The people that made the decision will be replaced so it doesn't matter.

So I can steal $20,000 using my corporation and only have to pay back $5,000.

It works, Madoff is currently under house arrest...

In his 7 million dollar apartment, which he gets to keep, having everything delivered to him.

Once one of my bogan friends asked me, "If youre (me) so smart how do you rob a bank and get away with it.", my response was "If you're not smart enough to commit white collar crime you'll never get away with it." It scares me how right I was.

Re:Pay $31M, Made $300M (3, Insightful)

Afforess (1310263) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161157)

The best part, the new LCD screens will cost more because they have to cover "court costs." It's a lose-lose situation for consumers.

Re:Pay $31M, Made $300M (1)

Kanasta (70274) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161481)

why to companies pay fines for felonies, while individuals have their lives ruined and serve jail time?
surely a corporation has enough individuals to at least put a couple behind bars for good effort?

Re:Pay $31M, Made $300M (1)

the_greywolf (311406) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162593)

Corporation - n. - An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit, without individual responsibility.

Re:Pay $31M, Made $300M (1, Interesting)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163149)

they didn't steal anything. They just structured "impressions" so Dell paid them more money than the market would have decided on.

Personally, I'm having a problem with all these foreign companies being sued for "collusion" years after the fact. Prices are consistently dropping, in fact they are dropping in many cases dangerously fast to the economy. The big problem in the electronics industry is that there is little adjusting to market demand after production is started. Companies pay their billions up front to make RAM chips or LCDs and they have to make that one model, for 6 months straight to hit their margins. When somebody decides they want to sell 17" in stead of 15", or Apple buys up pre-sales of chips, that causes one item to fall to "fire sale" levels and another to spike.

Companies like Dell and Apple pre-pay for the actual manufacturing run, not for the spot-prices. Some days they get a good deal, others they get stuck holding the bag. I think that's why OEM components are marked up so much because the OEM promised the sale price 3 months ago, not the "fire sale" price retail is charging right now. Knowing a little bit how the purchasing for these things work, it feels like the OEMs are pointing to the "fire sale" price of tech after 6 months and claiming they should have got that price up front and were "mislead". OEMs are not like Walmart, the only leverage they have on the market is to promise to buy up-front.

You and I typically buy on the "spot market" we buy ram/hard drives/CPUs that are left-overs from the OEM runs. That's why new ram is very expensive, then as the company fills orders but has a week left to run they "run out" the schedule until the time to build new parts, then the cycle repeats. If the cycle is off a week or two then prices go all over. If the fabs run an extra two weeks of parts, first the bills were paid by the OEM contracts say at $150 per panel, but if they run out the schedule the street value of the panel made the last week may only be $100 because they flooded the market, OEMs didn't take their orders, or the next model isn't ready yet.. the fab don't stop. It feels like the OEMs are saying that they were "overcharged" at $150 and that the fabs "knew" 6 months ahead the part would be worth much less when they were done with the run. That's not how electronic fabs work and with the increase in cases I don't think US courts "get" that fact. I also think they're favoring the "home team" and not the contracts.

Re:Pay $31M, Made $300M (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164195)

they didn't steal anything

Yes they did. From us. When they forced Dell to pay more for the LCD, Dell dutifully passed the increase onto us. Which means we wuz robbed.
In the wild west, this would have been solved with a Colt .48 Magnum...
 

Re:Pay $31M, Made $300M (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165567)

You'd shoot a man for selling you a steak at a price you were willing to pay?

Wow.

Re:Pay $31M, Made $300M (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#27166185)

No.
I would shoot man who wuz charging me a much higher price because than i was willing to pay.

Agreed (4, Insightful)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#27160615)

The Japanese electronics manufacturer has just agreed to pay....

How come when companies break the law they get to "agree" on the punishment?

Re:Agreed (2, Insightful)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 5 years ago | (#27160797)

Because the only other sensible thing to write is, "plans to file an appeal?"

Re:Agreed (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27160855)

Never heard of plea bargains, huh?

Re:Agreed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27163627)

The Japanese electronics manufacturer has just agreed to pay....

How come when companies break the law they get to "agree" on the punishment?

The same way government appointees, upon "discovering" they haven't paid taxes in years, get to pay the back taxes and keep their job.

Dell sucks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27160641)

Company treats employees like trash. FvC| Mr. Michael Dell in the a$$.

Only 31M? (1)

Buelldozer (713671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27160685)

That's hardly pocket change to a corporation like Hitachi.

Re:Only 31M? (1)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162433)

Yeah but I doubt they have to pay it all at once. They probably only have to pay interest on the 31 million till they go out of business.

Not Smart (1, Interesting)

primefalcon (1367925) | more than 5 years ago | (#27160691)

From that report the price fixing was from 2001 to 2004, while I agree something needed doing... Hitting a company with a 31M file in these times could easily send the company bankrupt, when so many companies are filing bankruptcy and causing more and more people to lose their jobs... was this really a smart decision to do this at this point in time?

Re:Not Smart (1)

longacre (1090157) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161053)

They have about $6 billion in cash on hand. I think they'll be alright.

Re:Not Smart (4, Interesting)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161835)

You're right. When the economy is bad, we should let corporations get away with breaking any laws or regulations they want to in order to maintain a healthy profit, thereby maintaining jobs. This is especially important when the economy is bad in large part because we let corporations get away with breaking any laws or regulations they wanted to in order to maintain a healthy profit.

Re:Not Smart (1)

primefalcon (1367925) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163189)

I'm not saying no action should of been taken, what I'm saying is I'm not sure this is the right action, I'm sure there are other ways this could of been handled. A fine is a quick easy decision, no thought required...

Staggering (1, Insightful)

jason8 (917879) | more than 5 years ago | (#27160697)

$25 billion in profits last year. Yep, that $31 million fine is staggering.

Re:Staggering (4, Interesting)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161015)

$25 billion in profits last year. Yep, that $31 million fine is staggering.

Citation please? According to http://investing.businessweek.com/businessweek/research/stocks/earnings/earnings.asp?symbol=6581.T [businessweek.com]

Hitachi's revenue for 2008 was 175B yen or $1.8B. Which is not even the net profit, it's the all monies coming in before expenses. This is no where near $25B in profit.

In fact they made a net profit of 1.5B yen or $129 Million for 2007. $31 million is almost a quarter of their profits for 2007. For 2008(3-08 to 3-09) they are posting a $7.8B loss.

http://retrenchment-blog.breaking.sg/2009/01/hitachi-cuts-7000-jobs-worldwide/ [breaking.sg]

Which Hitachi? (4, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161121)

Remember, this Hitachi is only a small subsidiary of the bigger Hitachi, and mentioned in TFA.

Re:Staggering (1)

jason8 (917879) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161357)

Oops, maybe you're right, I got my info here [yahoo.com] , specifically the "Gross Profit (ttm): 24.74B". I should have thought about that a minute, USD 25B in profit sounds way too big. My bad.

Re:Staggering (1)

forgottenusername (1495209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163813)

This is slashdot, citations are only required for the important stuff like obscure vim macro commands to prove its superiority over emacs.

As Colbert would say, a tip of my hat for bringing some real figures into the discussion ;p

The problem with punishing a company as others have stated is it affects the average worker much more negatively than some exec who just lists it as a "failed strategy" (read: got caught) if they're questioned about it.

Sucks how most financial systems end up rewarding the wrong people off the sweat of the honest, hardworking folk, and the elite never have any comebacks. Kinda makes me wish I believed in some metaphysical retribution system, be it Judgement day or karma ;)

Re:Staggering (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164897)

When you squeeze the nobility, it's the peasants who feel the pinch.

Re:Staggering (1)

longacre (1090157) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161041)

Really? Their biggest annual profit in the past 10 years was $841 million. In 2008 they posted a loss of $581 million.

Restitution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27160727)

Do we get anything for purchasing a dell monitor during that time? I could use some cash

Re:Restitution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27160755)

No. Michael Dell needs a yacht.

Re:Restitution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27160805)

Dude, your getting a schooner!

And after class action.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27162023)

...attorney's fees, your schooner becomes a rubber ducky for your bath tub..

Re:Restitution? (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162579)

Schooner? I'd rather a pint!

So who's going to gaol?? (3, Interesting)

femto (459605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27160833)

See, that's where it's so unfair to treat companies as people. They get the benefits, but not the downsides. If *I* committed a felony I would go to gaol. A company gets a smack on the wrist and it is business as usual.

What we need is a gaol for companies. If a person has to lose "X" years of their life by being locked up, why not a company? Being in "gaol" might mean that the company is nationalised for the length of the sentence and all profits go to the government.

Re:So who's going to gaol?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27160947)

But in actuality 99% of the employees of Hitachi had no knowledge of the wrongdoing. These sorts of deals are made by a select few executives. While I agree that the executives who made the decisions should go to jail, I don't agree that everyone in the company should be punished.

Re:So who's going to gaol?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27162357)

The company should be punished, then the officers of the company should be punished for acting against the interests of the company by bringing it into disrepute. Docking company profits won't hurt employees, only executives and shareholders, and they are the ones that benefited from the criminality.

Re:So who's going to gaol?? (1)

a09bdb811a (1453409) | more than 5 years ago | (#27160967)

Gaol?

Woah. Is this 1709 or 2009?

Re:So who's going to gaol?? (2, Funny)

enoz (1181117) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161355)

Just because your colony resorted to spelling everything phonetically...

Re:So who's going to gaol?? (1)

Savior_on_a_Stick (971781) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162179)

Yeah - well you have the Welsh

Re:So who's going to gaol?? (1)

enoz (1181117) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162687)

The New South Welshmen?

Re:So who's going to gaol?? (3, Funny)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162591)

He shoost, he scroes! GAAAAOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLL!!!

Using all caps is what you're *meant* to do when someone scores a gaol, silly flitter!

Re:So who's going to gaol?? (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27160977)

Theoretically, any officer of the company who was complicit in the criminal behavior can be held criminally liable as an individual. For some reason, this doesn't always happen. What the hell does it mean to "convict" a company, anyway?

Re:So who's going to gaol?? (1)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161207)

Theoretically, any officer of the company who was complicit in the criminal behavior can be held criminally liable as an individual. For some reason, this doesn't always happen. What the hell does it mean to "convict" a company, anyway?

Scooter Libby would like to have a word with you.

Re:So who's going to gaol?? (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162889)

It does happen, just not nearly as often as you'd expect from the way the law is written.

Re:So who's going to gaol?? (1)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 5 years ago | (#27165113)

I'll concede that it's rare, but not so rare as to still be theoretical. And there's been a growing trend in sending top people to jail just lately, even before the financial crisis came down. I know Canada had a case just last year, in Quebec (appealed to the Supreme Court), where an executive (or maybe a director) was convicted over a workplace safety incident (but alas I don't remember the name of the case). It was, I believe, a first in Canada, but there are more in the courts, and I think there've been some convictions since that haven't been appealed.

We're going to see a lot more of these in the next few years.

Re:So who's going to gaol?? (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164011)

Practically also its true.
Anyone committing a crime is a criminal.
No one can assault his in-laws and then claim his corporate policy made him do it.
Acting on behalf of someone is not a license to commit crimes and escape responsibility.
Contract Law states that when an Agent acts ultra-vires of his Licensor, then the Agent is individually responsible for such acts.
Jail the criminal, and convict him.
Period.
Unfortunately none of our lawmakers would allow such a thing to happen: especially Republicans like Orrin Hatch and Ted Tube Stevens (he's out).
Because our lawmakers get "benefits" from corporate lobbyists and go to work there after their terms...
Symbiotic relationship.

Re:So who's going to gaol?? (2, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161895)

I'd love to see a way to really punish corporations. Jailing their chief officers is a good start, but that usually only happens in the most egregious cases involving something that brings the company itself down. However, your idea to temporarily nationalize the company in order to punish it, while definitely giving the government incentive to enforce the laws, may be going a bit too far.

Considering the country is currently many trillions of dollars in debt, and adding almost 2 trillion more to that debt this year alone, the temptation to use nationalization as the default punishment for a wide variety of infractions may prove too great for the government to resist. Before you know it, the money-hungry government will have "temporarily" nationalized hundreds of corporations in order to siphon the profits and balance its own books.

The best option to control corporate malfeasance, in my opinion, is to make it as painful as possible to the people in the position to make decisions. The chief executives get rewarded with millions of dollars for doing a good job, and if they screw up badly enough they get...rewarded with tens of millions of dollars in severance. If screwing up carried an actual penalty for them, maybe at least some of them would think a little harder before going down that path.

Re:So who's going to gaol?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27162383)

... the temptation to use nationalization as the default punishment for a wide variety of infractions may prove too great for the government to resist.

Thats exactly what the government does to people (think revenue raising traffic fines). If it's good enough for people, its good enough for companies. Maybe there would then be a little more backlash against penalties primarily being used as a revenue source?

Courts in SF... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27160905)

I'm starting to think its fishy how many cases go through there, and how much of it is either dubious in basis or result...

Who gets the $31 million? (3, Interesting)

AlexCorn (763954) | more than 5 years ago | (#27160937)

Does the government keep the $31 million, or does it get distributed to those people who bought price-fixed displays? If the government keeps it, do the victims get a tax cut?

I'd rather a profitable, productive company like Hitachi keep the money than the parasitic government.

Re:Who gets the $31 million? (3, Insightful)

LoverOfJoy (820058) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161039)

Don't worry. The $31 million will just barely cover the costs of the lawyers. The government won't see a dime.

Re:Who gets the $31 million? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27161247)

wank on, libertardian

Re:Who gets the $31 million? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27161963)

God, I wish I had mod points right now. Beautiful.

Re:Who gets the $31 million? (1, Informative)

kklein (900361) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161311)

I'd rather a profitable, productive company like Hitachi keep the money than the parasitic government.

Yes, but that's because you think that if we adopted your feudal economic system again, you'd be a lord, not a serf.

That is to say, you are a moron.

Re:Who gets the $31 million? (2, Insightful)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162611)

In the words of the late Doctor Asimov: "What you're really saying is 'Up with Slavery for Other People!'"

Business as usual... (1)

inject_hotmail.com (843637) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161093)

I don't really think that anything changes now that they were "caught". How many price-fixing slaps-on-the-wrists have we seen? Any company that does it just chalks up the fine to business costs, and continues.

Do I think anything will change? Nope. Ask yourself why they don't get caught while doing it. After the fact, it doesn't matter anymore.

Oh, and double bonus points to the article writer for using the word "plead", and not "pleaded".

Re:Business as usual... (1)

clampolo (1159617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161959)

True. Every couple of years there is another DRAM pricing conviction. This is all a waste of time until they hand out some severe penalties.

Who gets this $$? (1)

woboyle (1044168) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161225)

I purchased multiple Dell systems and monitors during that period. Do I get anything back for the inflated prices I had to pay? Right... That and $3.50 USD (more or less) will buy me a cup of almost-decent coffee.

Re:Who gets this $$? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27161353)

Those class-action lawsuits are totally bogus from the consumer's POV. Based on the notices I've received in the past, the outcome always seems to be

  1. to participate, you must log onto some web site, enter your address and two phone #'s, date of birth, SSN, Visa account #, and three personal references; they'll send you a check for $14.50 in the mail. If the check doesn't arrive in six weeks, send a request by certified mail.
  2. Court-approved plaintiff attorneys Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe LLP will receive 40 pct of the settlement as their court-awarded fees, which comes out to $55 million.

I'm happier just to have the company pay the fine to the government. This way, at least the lawyers won't get quite so obscenely rich in the process, although I'm sure some have already done handsome business in this case.

Seriously, I'd like to see some law passed regarding class action suits where the per-consumer reward is under $30. Give the money to the government instead, and cap the attorney fees at 15 pct.

Rights (4, Funny)

darkpixel2k (623900) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161321)

details show that Hitachi has plead guilty to a one-count felony.

Damn. Poor Hitachi. They just lost their right to vote and carry a gun.

Re:Rights (1)

cortesoft (1150075) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162003)

Totally off topic and not really that important but.... only 14 states ban convicted felons from ever voting again. Vermont and Maine even allow current prisoners to vote.

Just thought you might like to know, not all states ban felons from voting for life.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_rights_in_the_United_States#Felons [wikipedia.org]

Re:Rights (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27164133)

The "right to vote" part could easily be implemented by replacing it by "right to lobby and make donations". Should be quite effective, even if you limited it to 10 years or so.

Why fine the company? (1)

MikeB0Lton (962403) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161349)

What about the employees that committed unethical and illegal behaviors in doing this? I don't get why people are so shielded when working under a corporation.

No More Slashdotting for Med (1)

LennyP (1383065) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161457)

Guess from what I've been reading on slashdot -- and not from we readers -- I'm not going to be slashdotting anymore. To stick the word "staggering" in the headline belies a belief in truth and becomes propaganda. Too bad, you used to be good slashdot, but you became corporate media.

Short list (4, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#27161793)

Does anyone know where I can find the short list of corporations that are not convicted felons?

It's odd the way that people who would never in a million years do business with an individual with a felony record (would you buy a house from someone convicted of fraud?) keep on sending their cash to three time loser corporations.

Re:Short list (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162797)

Exactly.
Banks maintain a record of convicted and bankrupt individuals and do not hire them.
Hell, if someone were to float a company and he's convicted of fraud or a felony, and he goes to bank to secure a loan for his company, he's refused!
Even though legally both of them are separate individuals!
Banks do maintain a central registry of such convicted felons.
Why can't we, citizens, maintain an open source registry of convicted corporations so that we actively prevent them from setting up shop in our town or village?

Re:Short list (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164127)

Well there's Hitachi for starters. Getting a minor fine for market fixing really doesn't say much about the company. Just because companies pick up fines from governments doesn't mean that they've done anything wrong. To me, most such market morality is more a matter of money. If an activity costs someone money, then they have a tendency to view it as immoral. Personally, I think the cost of market cartels, non-government monopolies, and other such things is less than the cost of government interference.

$31m Is Small, Not "Staggering" (4, Informative)

meehawl (73285) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162013)

In 2005, Samsung paid $300m for price fixing [usdoj.gov] . Hynix paid $185m. Infineon paid $160m, and four of its execs went to prison and paid $250,000 each.

In 2008, LG paid $400m in fines for price fixing [usdoj.gov] . Sharp paid $120m. Chunghwa paid $65m.

So... $35m. In this context, not very "staggering".

thIs is 6oatsex (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27162463)

develo4ers. ThHe [goat.cx]

Just goes to show (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162903)

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Re:Just goes to show (1)

Waccoon (1186667) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163337)

I say this every time I consider replacing my CRT with an LCD. I do sensitive color work, and I have still yet to see an expensive LCD that beats my 7-year-old tube.

Damn the flood of cheap, crappy TN-based LCDs crowding the market. I don't care about LCD price fixing -- I care about not being able to find a large, new CRT anywhere. Almost all CRTs you try to buy online are refurbished rather than NOS. The sellers often forget to write that in the product description.

Why not the corporate death penalty? (1)

jhylkema (545853) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163193)

When people kill other people, we shoot, gas, behead, poison or fry them. When corporations do it, why do they always get by with "mistakes were made"? Why can't their charters be revoked and all of their assets and IP sold, for starters?

Some other good reforms? (2, Interesting)

jhylkema (545853) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163227)

Our legal system needs to recognize that legal persons have a significant advantage over legal persons in court. To level that playing field:

-- Make the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law inapplicable to corporations.

-- After that, you raise the burden of proof, on both liability and damages, when corporations sue individuals. In other words, make the RIAA prove up every last penny of its damages when it sues file sharers. By that I mean, make them produce evidence that every song downloaded equals a lost sale. Hint: There isn't any.

-- By contrast, when individuals sue corporations, you reduce the burden of proof. Upon a finding of liability, damages are presumed.

-- Extend the right to counsel to individuals being sued by corporations.

On another note, the government can use its buying power to significantly (and positively) influence corporate behaviour. In other words:

-- Want to do business with the government? Great. You agree to a long list of "good corporate citizen business practises" (easy union recognition, no outsourcing, a living wage, caps on executive pay and perks, firings only for just cause, a fully funded pension plan, etc.) and we'll THINK about doing business with you.

Shit (2, Insightful)

jhylkema (545853) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163249)

Our legal system needs to recognize that legal persons have a significant advantage over legal persons in court.

Legal persons have a significant advantage over natural persons in court.

'Course, /. could add post revision functionality like every other web board has had for nearly a decade . . .

where's my refund? (1)

pr100 (653298) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164257)

So does this mean that anyone who bought a Dell with one of these screens during that period paid more than they should have done? If so then presumably they'd have a legitimate claim against Dell and/or Hitachi?

Re:where's my refund? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27165917)

I only paid $300 for my 20" widescreen back then so it was a good deal to begin with.

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