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AUO, Toshiba Settle Panel Price Case for $68 Million

AU Optronics Corp. and Toshiba Corp. agreed to pay $68 million to settle claims that they conspired to fix prices for liquid crystal display panels used in computers for $68 million, lawyers for panel purchasers and the companies said.

AU Optronics settled for $38 million and Toshiba will pay $30 million, the lawyers said in a filing in federal court in San Francisco. The accord resolves claims by digital signage makers, office networking companies and other direct purchasers of panels and products containing panels that manufacturers agreed to set prices, causing buyers to pay more than they should have, according to court filings in the six-year-old case.

At least seven Japanese, Taiwanese and South Korean panel makers settled buyers’ civil claims late last year. Sharp Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. were among those who agreed to pay $927 million in settlements reached in December.

The civil lawsuits followed a U.S. Justice Department criminal investigation of LCD price fixing, which led to guilty pleas by LG Display, Chunghwa Picture Tubes and Sharp. The companies agreed in 2008 and 2009 to pay $585 million in criminal fines. Toshiba wasn’t indicted in the criminal probe.

The case is In Re TFT-LCD (Flat Panel) Antitrust Litigation, 07-1827, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco)

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