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US: AU Optronics tests reach of price-fixing laws

 |  October 18, 2013

Taiwan-based AU Optronics, convicted in 2012 for conspiring to fix LCD screen prices and fined $500 million, has begun arguments in the San Francisco 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in its appeal of the conviction in what reports say will test the reach of US price-fixing law.

The case began last Friday in AUO’s efforts to overturn the 2012 ruling, which resulted in the largest antitrust fine imposed against a company in US history. Two AUO executives were also sentenced to prison time for the scheme.

According to reports, AUO argues that the US Sherman Act cannot apply to actions of foreign companies if that action occurs on foreign soil.

Therefore, the company is arguing that US antitrust law should be applied in a limited way.

While the company has admitted to meeting with competitors to exchange market sensitive pricing information, the company claims it did not agree to fix LCD prices.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the arguments are a “long shot,” but are intriguing as companies rarely challenge price-fixing charges.

The case stems from the US Department of Justice’s charges that AUO conspired between 2001 and 2006 to fix the prices of LCD screens used in televisions and computers; the DOJ originally sought a fine of $1 billon.

Full content: The Wall Street Journal

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