Nokia Sues LCD, CRT Makers for Illegal Price Fixing
Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone maker, has filed a suit
against several liquid crystal display (LCD) and cathode ray tube (CRT)
makers, according to reporting from the Associated Press and Dow Jones.
The LCD makers, or their subsidiaries named in the case, are reportedly Toshiba, Sharp, Seiko Epson, Samsung Electronics, Philips Electronics, LG Electronics, Hitachi and AU Optronics.
Nokia has filed lawsuits in the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as a CRT lawsuit in the United Kingdom, that pertain to international criminal investigations.
"The investigations are into alleged cartel activities, effectively price fixing, in the supply of both [CRTs] and [LCDs] - components that we have bought in significant volumes over a number of years," Mark Durrant, a Nokia spokesperson, told AP. "Had we not been overcharged for them our profitability would have been higher."
Laurie Armstrong, Nokia's director of communications, told eWEEK, "When certain companies and management employees have already admitted participating in, or are indicted for, global price-fixing cartels involving components that Nokia has purchased, it is reasonable for Nokia to seek redress."
Armstrong added that the LCDs and CRTs were purchased by "Nokia's former Nokia Display Products business."
The amount Nokia is seeking was not disclosed, but Durrant told AP that Nokia is open to being appropriately compensated, and considers litigation as a "last resort."
Nokia also found itself in a last-resort position when on Oct. 22 it filed a lawsuit against Apple, whose iPhones, Nokia alleges, use technologies that infringe on 10 of Nokia's patents. Analysts have speculated that compensation due to Nokia could be as high as nearly $1 billion.
Ilkka Rahnasto, Nokia vice president of legal and intellectual property, said in a statement regarding the lawsuits against Apple, "By refusing to agree to appropriate terms for Nokia's intellectual property, Apple is attempting to get a free ride on the back of Nokia's innovation."
Nokia has so far offered no similar public statement on its more recent lawsuits against the LCD makers.
In addition to its mobile phone business, Nokia entered the mobile PC space this year with the introduction of the Booklet 3G netbook. The company's market share and profits have been slipping, and in the third fiscal quarter of 2009 it announced losses of approximately $838 million.
According to the Dow Jones Newswire, the Nokia lawsuit alleges that the companies whose LCD products it purchased to incorporate into its mobile handsets raised "the price of LCDs above the price that would have prevailed in a competitive market" for the near decade of "at least Jan. 1, 1996 through Dec. 11, 2006."