HP Accuses AU Optronics of Display Panel Price Fixing in Lawsuit

HP Sues AU Optronics Alleging Display Panel Price Fixing
AUO, Taiwan’s second-largest maker of LCDs, and six of its executives were indicted last year for allegedly conspiring to fix prices of flat-panel screens sold worldwide, the Justice Department said in June 2010. Photographer: Maurice Tsai/Bloomberg

Hewlett-Packard Co. accused AU Optronics Corp. in a lawsuit of conspiring to fix prices of thin-film transistor liquid crystal display panels, according to a court filing.

A complaint for damages alleging violations of antitrust laws was filed under seal to conceal from HP’s competitors confidential information about the company’s process for procuring LCD panels, according to a document filed Aug. 19 in federal court in San Francisco by Jun Kim, an HP vice president and general manager for the displays business unit.

AUO and others conspired “to fix the prices of” LCD panels, HP said in a document relating its complaint to a pending group case filed against LCD makers on behalf of purchasers of the screens, used in personal computers, televisions and mobile devices.

Yawen Hsiao, a spokeswoman for AUO, wasn’t immediately aware of the complaint when contacted by phone yesterday. She declined to comment further.

HP is one of AUO’s largest clients, providing the PC maker with panels used in laptops and computer monitors.

AUO, Taiwan’s second-largest maker of LCDs, and six of its executives were indicted last year for allegedly conspiring to fix prices of flat-panel screens sold worldwide, the Justice Department said in June 2010. The conspiracy ran from 2001 to 2006, the agency said. Apple Inc., Dell Inc. and HP were among the companies directly affected by the alleged scheme, the agency said.

AUO, based in Hsinchu, Taiwan, said at the time “the facts of the case do not warrant such charges.”

The case is Hewlett-Packard Co. v. AU Optronics Corp., 11-4116, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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