What has 500,000 thumbs and is no longer being sued by HP? Panasonic

Sides settle beef over the cost of that DVD player you never use

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HP says that Panasonic will no longer be a target in its optical drives lawsuit – after the two sides reached a settlement deal.

The companies announced the arrangement yesterday in a filing to the California Northern District Court, where Judge Richard Seeborg is presiding over HP's claim that a group of optical drive makers conspired to inflate the price of optical drives.

The deal calls for Panasonic to be dropped from the ongoing case and for each side to cover its own legal costs. Other claims in the case are not affected, and terms were not disclosed.

HP filed suit against the optical drive makers in 2013 – before the IT giant split into HP Inc and HP Enterprise, hence why the paperwork still refers to HP. The lawsuit alleges that a group including Sony, Samsung, LG, and Toshiba used their dominant positions in the market for DVD and Blu-ray drives to inflate the prices they charged PC builders and resellers who purchased the drives.

Basically, Hewlett Packard claims that between 2004 and 2010 the drive makers – which together controlled roughly 90 per cent of the optical drive market – illegally colluded to set prices artificially high.

HP is part of a larger group of plaintiffs in the case that includes PC and electronics retailers and the trust now in charge of the bankrupt Circuit City. The plaintiffs allege that the companies not only agreed to inflate the cost of their optical drives, but also exchanged confidential information – such as production capacity and future business plans – in order to inflate the cost of their hardware by "billions of dollars" over the six-year period.

As a result, the suit alleges, PC manufacturers and retailers had to pay higher wholesale costs, which were in turn passed on to consumers.

A similar case involving the price of CRT monitors was recently settled in California. That case also accused electronics manufacturers of illegally colluding to drive up the price of hardware components in the 1990s and 2000s. ®


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