Panasonic pleads guilty to laptop battery pack price fixing

Battery price fixing affected the price of laptops sold to consumers, the DoJ said

Panasonic and its subsidiary Sanyo have agreed to plead guilty to price fixing conspiracies involving laptop battery cells and automotive parts. They will pay a total of $56.5 million in criminal fines, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) said.

Sanyo agreed to pay $10.7 million for the battery cells conspiracy and Panasonic will pay $45.8 million for its role in the automotive parts conspiracy, the DoJ said in a news release on Thursday.

LG Chem, a manufacturer of rechargeable batteries, has also agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $1.056 million criminal fine for price fixing involving battery cells, the DoJ said. Sanyo and LG Chem were involved in a battery cell conspiracy from about April 2007 until about September 2008, it said.

"The guilty pleas against Sanyo and LG Chem are the first in the department's ongoing investigation into anticompetitive conduct in the cylindrical lithium-ion battery cell industry," it said. Both companies conspired to fix the prices of battery cells sold worldwide for use in notebook computer battery packs, it added.

Lithium ion batteries are rechargeable and are often used in groups in more powerful battery packs for electronic devices. While flat, or prismatic, cells are more common in cellphones or thin-and-light laptops, cylindrical cells are used to make up most removable laptop battery packs.

Sanyo, LG Chem and their co-conspirators agreed during meetings and conversations to price the battery packs to customers at predetermined levels and to issue price quotations to customers in accordance with those agreements, according to the charges. "Sanyo, LG Chem and their co-conspirators collected and exchanged information for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing adherence to the agreed-upon prices and took steps to conceal the conspiracy," the DoJ said.

"Pleading guilty and cooperating with the division's ongoing investigations is a necessary step in changing a corporate culture that turned customers into price-fixing victims," the DoJ added.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Batteries / fuel cellsPanasonicsanyolegalComponentsLG Chem

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?