Hitachi and NEC cough up millions in laptop battery price fixing case

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Hitachi and NEC cough up millions in laptop battery price fixing case

Hitachi and NEC will pay US$3.45 million (A$4.5 million) and US$2.5 million (A$3.3 million) respectively in settlement for their role in a lithium-ion battery price fixing scheme, bringing to a close their involvement in a long-running case that has also drawn in Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, LG, Sanyo and Toshiba.

The settlement covers a period of more than a decade between 2000 and 2011, when prosecutors claim major players in the laptop market conspired to overcharge consumers for new batteries, The Register has reported.

Hitachi and NEC’s settlements, filed in a California federal court earlier this week, were the third and fourth proposed settlements in the case, with Sony first to put forward its settlement offer of US$19 million, followed by LG with an amount offer of US$39 million.

The court filing estimated indirect purchaser damages totalling US$967 million and that about 16 million people were affected, with price fixing damages valued at $60 per person. The settlement outlined a refund pool of US$65 million, combining Hitachi and NEC settlements with Sony and LG’s settlements.

Looking at a breakdown of the damages attributed to each company versus the contribution each said company has proposed to make to the settlement fund, Hitachi will cover the damages it is accused of causing by 108.2 percent, while NEC will cover 258.5 percent of its damages. Both LG and Sony’s settlement proposals fell short of the estimated damages they cause, at 31.6 percent and 8.1 percent recovery, respectively.

Settlements are yet to be reached with Panasonic, Samsung, Sanyo and Toshiba.

The final approval on all settlement proposals is expected by August.

Customers who purchased stand-alone batteries from the involved vendors are expected to receive emails notifying them of the outcome.

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