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Panel-Maker AUOptronics Convicted of Price-Fixing, Could Face Up To $1B in Fines

One of the biggest suppliers of LCD panels to notebook and PC monitor manufacturers, AUOptronics, has been convicted by a US court on Tuesday, of price-fixing, a serious anti-competitive practice that cripples innovation and is bad for consumers and progress of the industry. The company faces fines as high as US $1 billion, which could amount to a big blow to the company that already finds itself facing losses.

AUOptronics' conviction follows the December 2011 mega-settlement of LCD makers including Samsung, Sharp, Hitachi, HannStar, and Chimei Innolux. At the time, AUOptronics and LG Electronics were the only fence-sitters. LG Electronics agreed to pay a US $400 million fine, in 2008. AUOptronics' current position is that it finds the evidence presented against it, which led to the conviction as being "distorted and incomplete," and that it will appeal against the verdict. The quantum of fine levied against AUOptronics will surface in the months ahead.Sources: Reuters, The Verge

LCD Makers Settle Price-Fixing Case

Five major LCD panel makers, including Samsung, Sharp, Hitachi, HannStar, and Chimei Innolux; agreed to pay over US $553 million in settlement to regulators for a price-fixing case. The case by regulators alleged that these companies colluded to fix prices of LCD panels 1999 and 2006, affecting billions of dollars of commerce. The scam unearthed in 2006, by regulators of Japan, Korea, United States, and the European Union. Many companies and executives have since pleaded guilty to criminal antitrust violations and paid more than US $890 million in fines so far.

The latest payout of $553 million is aimed to resolve claims by "indirect" purchasers that bought televisions and computers with thin film transistor LCDs, as well as claims by eight USA states: Arkansas, California, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New York, West Virginia and Wisconsin. It also includes payments of $14.7 million by the companies to settle civil fine and penalty law claims by the states, the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. He stated "This price-fixing scheme manipulated the playing field for businesses that abide by the rules, and left consumers to pay artificially higher costs for televisions, computers and other electronics."

Small, High Resolution Windows Laptops Coming In 2012 - Thanks To Apple

Love 'em or hate 'em, Apple has a habit of trend setting. When Apple released their original iPad, it had a meager low resolution 1024 x 768 resolution display which was scoffed at by many, yet it didn't stop it from being a runaway success. And the iPad 2 didn't improve on it, either – perhaps surprisingly, since the original formula worked so well. However, in early 2012 Apple plans to introduce its new Retina display equipped next generation iPads, offering a very high 2048 x 1536 resolution. On the 9.7" screen of an iPad, this would make the pixels all but invisible to anyone, except for those with the sharpest of 20-20 vision, giving the screen superb clarity and wow factor. These will be incorporated into its next generation iPads, which is expected to push the PC notebook market to use higher resolution displays too in order to remain competitive.
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