AT&T has reportedly filed suit in San Francisco today against several major manufacturers of cell phone LCD screens, accusing them of a price-fixing conspiracy. The carrier says Samsung, LG, Chunghwa, AU Optronics and others consorted to artificially jack up prices on LCD displays. AT&T says it purchased some 300 million cell phones at exaggerated prices from companies involved in the scheme.
More specifically, AT&T claims that Samsung and six other display makers "formed an international cartel illegally to restrict competition in the United States in the market for LCD panels." If true, AT&T has quite a case -- 300 million handsets is many times the carrier's entire subscriber base. It wouldn't be too much of a surprise either, as Hitachi, LG, Chunghwa and Sharp have all been nailed in previous LCD price-fixing schemes -- and the latter three pleaded guilty in November, paying more than half a billion in criminal fines.