North Carolina Department of Justice
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Cooper announces $90 million national settlement

Release date: 2/6/2007

Consumers who paid too much for computers, electronics to see refunds

Raleigh: Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today that consumers who paid too much for computers because of alleged price-fixing on computer chips will share $90 million in refunds.

“Illegal price fixing caused consumers to pay too much,” said Cooper. “Thanks to this agreement, people will get their money back.”

The refunds come as part of a national anti-trust settlement that resolves allegations that Samsung Semiconductor, Inc., Samsung Electronics Company Ltd. and most of the industry’s other leading computer chip manufacturers fixed the prices of Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM). DRAM is a type of computer chip used in all personal computers, servers, and many other electronic devices.

Consumers and state and local government agencies who paid more for computers and other electronic devices because of the price-fixing scheme will share $90 million in refunds. People who are eligible to participate in the settlement will receive notice about how to apply for refunds. The total amount of money that will go to North Carolina consumers and government agencies has not yet been calculated.

Samsung is also barred from anti-competitive conduct, such as agreeing with competitors to reduce output or set prices, and will cooperate with the states’ ongoing case against other manufacturers.

North Carolina and 38 other states are pursuing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, seeking money for consumers and government agencies who paid higher prices for electronics from 1998 to 2002 because of alleged price-fixing by at least seven other companies including: Elpida Memory, Inc.; Hynix Semiconductor, Inc.; Infineon Technologies, AG; Micron Technology, Inc.; Mosel Vitelic, Inc.; Nanya Technology Corporation and NEC Electronics America, Inc.

The states’ suit follows a federal criminal investigation that exposed a scheme in which DRAM manufacturers conspired to set the prices they charged computer manufacturers; those inflated prices were then passed on to consumers who bought computers. Samsung, Hynix, Infineon, Elpida and numerous individuals have pleaded guilty to federal criminal price-fixing charges and collectively paid more than $730 million in fines.

Besides North Carolina, states participating in the suit include Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.