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Utah joins settlement over computer chip price fixing

Attorney General Mark Shurtleff announced last week a $90 million settlement between Utah and 40 other states with Samsung Semiconductor, Inc. and Samsung Electronics Company Ltd.

The agreement resolves allegations that Samsung participated in a conspiracy with other computer chip manufacturers to fix the prices of DRAM - Dynamic Random Access Memory.

"This conspiracy forced consumers to pay too much for computers. Ninety-million dollars will help make those consumers whole and put the computer chip industry on notice," said Shurtleff.

DRAM is a type of computer chip used in all personal computers, servers, workstations and many other electronic devices.

The settlement money is going to consumers, state agencies and political subdivisions who paid more for computers and other devices because of the price-fixing.

Samsung admits no wrong-doing in the settlement, which is subject to court approval. Under the settlement terms, Samsung has also agreed to refrain from anti-competitive conduct and to cooperate with continuing litigation against other alleged co-conspirators. Assistant Attorney General Ronald Ockey is representing Utah in the settlement.

Utah and the other states and private plaintiffs will continue to pursue lawsuits for consumers and governmental agencies who paid higher prices for electronics from 1998 through 2002.

The lawsuits allege price-fixing by at least seven more companies, including Elpida, Hynix, Infineon, Micron, Mosel-Vetelic, Nanya and NEC.

The 41-state lawsuit followed a federal criminal investigation that exposed a scheme in which DRAM manufacturers profited by violating federal and state antitrust laws. Samsung, Hynix, Infineon, Elpida and numerous individuals have pleaded guilty to federal criminal price-fixing charges and collectively paid more than $730 million in fines.

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