Memory manufacturers face more price fixing fines

As the result of a class-action lawsuit for price fixing in the DRAM industry, Samsung, Hynix, and Infineon have agreed to settle for a total $160 million in fines. The three companies are expected to pay $67 million, $73 million, and $20.75 million, respectively, although Hynix's fine is still pending court approval. Guido Savieri, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, says additional memory manufacturers including Micron, Elpida, Nanya, and Winbond are next in line for potential fines.

This settlement follows a number of previous fines paid by Samsung, Hynix, and Infineon over the past two years for the same price-fixing charges. Samsung paid a massive $300 million fine to the U.S. Department of Justice in November 2005, Hynix was fined $185 million in April 2005, and Infineon coughed up $160 million in September 2004. The three companies also had executives jailed; Hynix, for example, had four of its Korean executives pay $250,000 fines each and serve jail sentences between five and eight months. The fines are all a result of price fixing between 1999 and 2003, which partly stemmed from competitive and legal battles with Rambus.

In addition to the price fixing charges, a number of players in the DRAM industry are also being sued by Rambus for patent infringement. Last month, Rambus won one patent lawsuit against Hynix, forcing the Korean memory manufacturer to pay $306.5 million in damages. Samsung, Nanya, and Micron are also in court with Rambus, while Infineon already settled in March, agreeing to pay Rambus $5.85 million per quarter in licensing fees.

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