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LCD makers fined $388 million for alleged price fixing

Samsung, Sharp, and several other companies were included in the class-action lawsuit, which alleges the companies drove up prices on LCDs sold between 1999 and 2006.

Sharp, Samsung, and a handful of other LCD makers have settled a price-fixing case that has set them back nearly $400 million.

According to Bloomberg, which obtained court papers filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, Sharp and Samsung paid $105 million and $82.7 million, respectively, for their alleged involvement in driving up prices for LCDs sold between 1999 and 2006. Chimei Innolux paid $78 million as part of the class action lawsuit's settlement.

The eight companies cited in the lawsuit paid a total of $388 million, Bloomberg said.

The settlement, which is headed for final approval later this month, and includes a denial of guilt from all the companies, spells the end of what has been a four-year court battle over the allegations. It's also the latest payment the companies have made over the issue.

In October, South Korea fined six LCD makers, including Samsung and LG Display, $176 million for alleged "collusion" to control LCD prices in TVs and PCs between 2001 and 2006.

"They colluded on minimum prices of panels, pricing policies on each product type, timing of price increases, and a ban on cash rebates," the country's Fair Trade Commission said at the time. "They were aware that such action was illegal, and kept their gatherings and information secret."

Almost a year ago to the day, the European Union was similarly critical of LCD makers, including LG Display and Samsung, calling the companies allegedly involved a "price-fixing cartel." The companies were ordered to pay a total of nearly 649 million euros.

In 2008, LG Display and Chunghwa, along with Sharp, pleaded guilty to fixing prices on LCD panels. The companies were forced to pay $585 million by the Department of Justice. LG Display paid $400 million of that sum, while Sharp agreed to pay $120 million, after pleading guilty.

The alleged price fixing impacted several markets and a host of companies, including Dell, Motorola, and Apple. In 2009, AT&T and Nokia sued Samsung, LG Display, and other panel makers, alleging that the companies artificially inflated prices on LCD panels. Dell followed with a lawsuit of its own last year, taking aim at Sharp, Hitachi, Toshiba, and others, accusing the firms of collusion on LCD panel pricing.

Neither Samsung nor Sharp immediately responded to CNET's request for comment on the latest settlement.