Many of the major LCD panel manufacturers have already pleaded guilty to price fixing charges in U.S. federal courts — paying close to $1 billion in fines — and now the states are lining up to get a piece of the action in the form of defending their citizens who were ripped off by the price fixing. New York and Florida were first to step up to take their swings at the plate, and now Illinois and Washington have stepped into the batter’s box. These suits go after the big players — including Samsung, LG, and Sharp — as well as other LCD manufacturers. The states are seeking damages for overcharging, penalties, and fees from the defendant companies.
The part that amazes me in the story is that this is one cartel that must have been particularly inept in their efforts to fix prices. Apparently in spite of their efforts, prices for flat panel HDTVs have fallen about 20% a year for the past few years — in spite of improved technology and new features — and we still have experienced situations of serious oversupply that has helped drive prices down. If they were keeping prices artificially high — which they apparently have admitted doing — then my mind boggles at how much lower the prices might be by now.