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DRAM Manufacturers Sued For Price Fixing
Quote:"What we've uncovered in the DRAM market is a classic antitrust, price-fixing scheme in which a small number of kingpin corporations hold the lion's share of the market," stated Hagens Berman managing partner Steve Berman. "Instead of playing by the rules, Samsung, Micron and Hynix chose to put consumers in a chokehold, wringing the market for more profit."

This isn't Hagens Berman's first time to the rodeo either. The firm had previously achieved a $300 million settlement for consumers who paid high prices for DRAM back in 2006. Samsung and Hynix pleaded guilty to the charges and paid a collective sum of $731 million in criminal fines, and both DRAM manufacturers served a collective 3,185 days of jail time.
Quote:This part is equally interesting: “On February 1, 2018, it was reported that Samsung and the NDRC had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding where Samsung agreed to increase manufacturing capacity. The NDRC investigation and the agreement with Samsung caused Defendants’ conduct to change as they increased capacity and the Class Period came to an end after February 1, 2018. DRAM prices fell as a result of the change in behavior.”

As of this time, HBS Law doesn’t have any hard evidence, but they have a lot of consequential evidence with a lot of suspect timelines. That’s what makes the class action interesting: Because of the peculiar timing of when each of the memory suppliers made changes in focusing on profit per wafer over volume, that threw red flags for HBS Law. Being Class Action means that anyone who bought memory during the period of 2016 through 2018 would be included, assuming this goes anywhere.
Quote:The official explanation for why DRAM prices rose is that Samsung and the other manufacturers prioritized mobile DRAM over desktop parts in the consumer market. But given that PC shipments have continued to fall from 2016-2018, there’s no explanation for why DRAM prices for PCs continued to rise, given that these increases should have otherwise encouraged one or more manufacturer to increase production, to maximize profits by taking market share. Except, of course, that hasn’t happened — and with the RAM industry now reduced to just three firms (Winbond and Nanya technically still exist, but they hold ~1.5 percent market share between them), the opportunities and benefits for collusion are enormous.

Obviously ExtremeTech is not in a position to categorically say that these three companies colluded to raise RAM prices. But it’s not crazy to look at the huge spike in RAM costs alongside the actions all three firms didn’t take to increase production, and wonder if there wasn’t a very tidy little agreement in place to maximize profits at consumers’ collective expense.

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