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Micron, Hynix e-mails indicate price fixing scheme

Posted: 05 Jun 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:price fixing? memory chip price? DDR? Micron? Hynix?

The global price-fixing conspiracy among memory suppliers added another twist Thursday (June 1) when several online reports said Micron Technology Inc. and Hynix Semiconductor Inc. exchanged e-mails that suggest the companies colluded to fix memory chip prices in an effort to hurt Rambus Inc.

A Reuters report quoted a Wall Street Journal article stating that both Micron and Hynix shared information in order to keep prices up. In addition, the e-mails also suggested the companies' actions were motivated by the desire to steer the market away from Rambus double data rate, or DDR technology, according to the report.

An online Business Week report quoted Micron vice president Linda Turner stating in one e-mail, dated June 5, 2001, "We want DDR to explode in the marketplace so have actually been requesting Infineon, Samsung, and Hynix to lower their DDR pricing to help it become a standard (and drive Rambus away completely)."

The Business Week report also noted several e-mails from Micron sales rep Tom Addie suggesting the company was concerned about PC makers eyeing RDRAM chips, which were manufactured by Samsung and designed by Rambus.

The reported exchange of e-mails could strongly bolster Rambus' efforts to prove that rival memory suppliers have conspired against the company by fixing prices and engaging in other anti-competitive practices. Rambus filed an antitrust suit against Micron, Hynix and Infineon Technologies in the Superior Court of the State of California in May 2004, alleging the companies engaged in a concerted and unlawful effort to eliminate competition and stifle innovation in the computer memory chip market.

Both the Wall Street Journal and Business Week reported they obtained the e-mails from Rambus, through documents released May 31 after Rambus prevailed in convincing a court judge in California to unseal evidence in the antitrust case.

In February, the U.S. District Court in San Francisco court ordered evidence in the case to be unsealed and turned over to Rambus, helping turn the tide for the technology licensing company.

- Spencer Chin
EE Times

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