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Rechargeable Lithium Batteries
- Issue: Global price-fixing conspiracy
On November 5, 2012, a California consumer represented by Lieff Cabraser filed on behalf of himself and consumers nationwide a class action against the world's leading manufacturers of lithium ion (Li-Ion) rechargeable batteries.
These batteries provide power for ubiquitous consumer electronic products, including cameras, notebook computers, mobile telephones, smartphones, personal digital assistants, tablet computers, and handheld game consoles.
The lawsuit alleges that the Defendants -- Sony, Panasonic, Hitachi, LG Chem, Samsung, and Sanyo – conspired to fix and raise the prices of Li-Ion rechargeable batteries in violation of U.S. antitrust law and the laws of numerous states.
Factual Allegations in Li-Ion Batteries Case
The manufacture and sale of Li-Ion rechargeable batteries is a multi-billion dollar industry. As set forth in the Complaint, this industry has traditionally been controlled by a few, large Japanese producers. In the late 1990s, however, manufacturers from South Korea, LG Chem and Samsung, entered the market. Prices for Li-Ion rechargeable batteries began to drop sharply, by nearly 50% from 2000 to 2002, even as demand for these batteries was surging.
Sony, Panasonic, and Hitachi sought to stem the rapid decline in Li-Ion rechargeable battery prices and their rapid loss of market share due to the intense competition from LG Chem and Samsung. The complaint charges that at the end of 2001 or beginning of 2002, all of these companies entered into an illegal conspiracy to stabilize and raise prices for Li-Ion rechargeable batteries.
The anti-competitive pact was effective in stopping the steep decline in Li-Ion rechargeable
batteries. Prices immediately stabilized after nearly a two-year period of rapid price decreases.
Li-Ion rechargeable Batteries prices often rose or remained stable, contrary to the expected effects of increased competition, decreasing costs, and the expected downward trend in prices characteristic of all technology products. Only the worldwide economic crisis in the late 2000s and corresponding drop in demand for consumer electronics caused a further decline in prices for Li-Ion rechargeable batteries.
The Defendants collectively controlled approximately two-thirds or more of the worldwide market for Li-Ion Rechargeable Batteries throughout the Class Period, and over 80 percent of the market in the early part of this period. In 2011, sales revenue in the worldwide Li-Ion rechargeable battery market was approximately $14 billion.
The Complaint alleges that as a direct result of the Defendants' alleged anticompetitive and unlawful conduct, consumers across America paid artificially inflated prices for Li-Ion rechargeable batteries.
The proposed class consists of all persons and entities who indirectly purchased, not for resale, (1) a stand-alone Li-Ion rechargeable battery containing a cell manufactured by a Defendant or (2) a product containing a Li-Ion Rechargeable Battery containing a cell manufactured by a Defendant, during the period from and including January 1, 2002 through 2011 (the "Class Period").
Contact Lieff Cabraser
Federal and state antitrust laws are designed to protect the economy and to promote competition among businesses by prohibiting price-fixing and other forms of anticompetitive conduct.
Individuals, businesses, public agencies and other entities that have purchased Li-Ion rechargeable batteries are welcome to contact a Lieff Cabraser attorney for further information on the litigation. We will review your claim for free and without any obligation.