Things are going to get legally tense for chip makers. Samsung Electronics, Elpida Memory, Infineon Technologies and Hynix Semiconductor have already been fined $730 million after a long-running U.S. Justice Department investigation found the companies guilty of price fixing. Micron Technology was given immunity in return for providing information to the investigation.
Now the Attorney General of New York has sued those companies, along with Mosel-Vitelic, Nanya Technology and NEC Electronics America, claiming that their price-fixing led to artificially higher prices for computers and devices between 1998 and 2002. The higher chip prices caused makers to raise prices or decrease the amount of memory in systems, according to the lawsuit. Samsung is not named in the suit because they have shown a willingness to settle.
This is just the first step in what could be a long process. Today, more than 30 other states are joining together to file a separate suit in a federal court in San Francisco. The goals of the two lawsuits are to have consumers compensated for higher prices in the past and to ensure that collusion does not happen again in the future.