Dell Sues Philips Alleging Cathode-Ray Tube Price Fixing

Dell Inc., the personal-computer maker poised for a $24.4 billion going-private buyout, sued a U.S. unit of Royal Philips Electronics NV for allegedly fixing the prices of cathode-ray tubes during the past two decades.

Round Rock, Texas-based Dell contends Netherlands-based Philips officials between 1995 and 2007 conspired to artificially inflate prices for the older, bulky tubes, used in computer monitors before flat panels, according to a complaint filed Feb. 17 in federal court in Austin, Texas.

“Numerous other persons” injured by Philips and “co-conspirators” are plaintiffs in a series of similar lawsuits combined for pretrial purposes in a group antitrust case in federal court in Northern California, Dell lawyers said in the filing. The group contains more than 50 cases, the docket shows.

Beginning in 1995, agents for tube-makers had at least 500 meetings in locales such as Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, China, the U.K. and Europe to discuss price guidelines, production, customer demand, market share, sales allocations and limiting competition, Dell lawyers contend in court papers.

In 2012, the European Commission fined companies including Philips and LG Electronics Inc. a record 1.47 billion euros ($1.9 billion) over alleged CRT price-fixing.

In the Texas case, Dell seeks a jury trial, legal fees and unspecified triple damages.

“We can confirm that Dell has filed a complaint in the pending CRT litigation in the United States,” Mark Stephenson, a spokesman for Philips, said today in an e-mail. “As this is an ongoing legal case, we cannot comment in more detail.”

The case is Dell v. Philips Electronics, 13-cv-141, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (Austin). The Multi-District Litigation case is In re Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 1917, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.