Prices Rigged for Electronic Resistors
Panasonic and others conspired to fix the prices of linear resistors, a component of “almost all electronic products” today, a class claims in Federal Court.
Used to regulate how much electrical current passes from one circuit to another, linear resistors are used in everything from cellphones to cars, according to the Aug. 18 complaint. The case is the Top Download today for Courthouse News.
Microsystems Development Technologies, the lead plaintiff behind the action, buys resistors from distributors and uses them as components in other products. A few companies control the “lion’s share” of the resistors market, and a price-fixing scheme between them has led to artificially high, anticompetitive prices, according to the complaint. Price-fixing conspiracies have dogged Panasonic over the years, Microsystems says, noting that the company already pleaded guilty to a scheme to control the prices of refrigerant compressors between 2004 and 2007. In 2013, Panasonic paid a $45.8 million criminal file for its role in a scheme to control the prices of automotive technologies, including steering angle sensors and high-intensity discharge ballasts, between 2003 and 2010. Panasonic’s subsidiary, SANYO Electric Co. Ltd., also admitted to fixing the prices of cylindrical lithium-ion battery cells for notebook computers in 2007 and 2008, according to a 2013 DOJ report. “Panasonic is sort of a repeat price-fixing offender,” Adam Zapala, an attorney for Micosystems with Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, said in an interview. “They’veVolumetric Efficiency been named and shamed in many different complaints – civil investigations and criminal investigations. This is the latest of many.”