Several of the world’s leading electronics manufacturers are settling a lawsuit filed in Canada which alleges their participation in the widespread fixing of prices on optical disc drives and other equipment between 2004 and 2010.
The settlement was approved by courts in the Canadian states of British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec after the involved parties agreed on a $29.7 million settlement.
The plaintiffs involved are BenQ, HitachiLG, Panasonic, Phillips, Pioneer, Quanta, Sony, TEAC, and Toshiba Samsung. These companies were accused of artificially raising the prices of optical disc drives, computers, gaming consoles, and media players to increase their respective profits.
The aforementioned companies are said to have come to a settlement before the actual amount in additional charges could be disclosed.
According to lawyer Linda Visser, a class action group partner affiliated with a firm in London, Ontario, both individual and commercial customers can make claims following the settlement.
Indeed, the claims process has been made easy for consumers as all they need to do is access the website and fill out the online form with information regarding any relevant purchases made during the period in question. Visser added that in the name of flexibility, as quite a great deal of time has passed since the said time frame, proof of purchase will not be required from potential claimants.
Among the purchases covered under the claims notice are personal computers, video game consoles, as well as CD, DVD, and Blu-ray media players. Individual claimants can get a one-time settlement of $20 even without a receipt. However, proof of purchase will be required if the individual claims for more than one item.
But while this is the case for individual consumers, it may not be as easy for businesses and institutions like schools and government agencies who also bought optical drive devices during the same period. Any claims from these parties must be supported by any relevant documentation as to the purchases in question.
What Triggered the Lawsuit?
Suspicions of a price-fixing conspiracy came to light during an antitrust investigation initiated by the US Department of Justice regarding anticompetitive practices in North America’s optical drive device industry. The findings from the said investigation led to several manufacturers’ convictions and the payment of fines.
A similar investigation was conducted by the European Commission in 2015, leading to penalties against eight optical drive device suppliers for their participation in the conspiracy.