back to article Some positive news: LG, Hitachi, NEC charged $65m in li-ion battery price fixing shocker

Three battery manufacturers agreed to settle a lawsuit that claimed they conspired to fix the price of lithium-ion battery cells for more than a decade. LG, Hitachi, and NEC will join Sony (who previously settled) in a deal to pay out $64.65m [PDF] to Americans who purchased any device containing one of their cylindrical li‑ …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    alleges that the battery makers netted $367,192,699

    Only? A proper cartel would have netted way more.

    1. Adam 1

      That's a very specific number. Do they have receipts or something?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The case against Hard Disk manufacturers can't come soon enough.

    Hard Disk manufacturers certainly seem to be colluding on hard disk prices by artificially pricing in terms of multiples of 1TB for larger disk sizes. ie. 3TB,6TB and 8TB are 3x,6x and 8x, that of a 1TB drive, or thereabouts.

    Seagate even describes the yearly shipments performance in terms ot 1TB's sold, now, not unit sales of drives.

  3. ma1010
    Holmes

    Oh, yes

    "The Settlements alleviate certain risks inherent in litigation, while also providing cash to the Settlement Class, valuable cooperation to Class Counsel as they continue to pursue claims against the other Defendants, and the potential for Class Counsel to recoup certain out-of-pocket expenses incurred so far in this litigation.

    As well as make Class Counsel a large pile of swag without having to do any more work for it, while the class members each get a check for 67 cents.

    What's the percentage of this settlement that's going to Class Counsel, I wonder, vs. how much for those out-of-pocket expenses?

    But at least it punishes the crooks a little bit. Too bad they can't throw the managers who approved the scheme into jail where they belong. But it's business as usual: steal $10 and get jail time; steal millions and get promoted.

    1. Adam 1

      Re: Oh, yes

      Jail!? But it was rogue engineers m'lord.

    2. Tom Samplonius

      Re: Oh, yes

      "As well as make Class Counsel a large pile of swag without having to do any more work for it, while the class members each get a check for 67 cents."

      That is the problem with class actions. With thousands of clients, the lawyers run the whole thing. As soon as they have a settlement offer that covers their fees, they are done. In the US, the chances of collecting 100% of the damages plus punitive damages is very likely, but would not be bring the same proportional benefit to the lawyers. A judge will review the bill, but the standard hourly rates and margin for lawyers are pretty high. It is a risk punching out this early, as judges have faulted class counsel for not pursuing cases aggressively in the past.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Until the penalties are set to exceed the gains, corporations will have no incentive to obey the law.

  5. Tromos

    65 Meeelions...

    ...should be enough to pay the lawyers in full and a compensation of 10 cents to each of the plaintiffs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 65 Meeelions...

      10 cents? How many batteries did they sell during those 11 years? Probably billions, which means we'll get less than a penny for each device we bought containing one. It wouldn't even be worth filling out the form with every laptop and phone you bought in the 00s...

      1. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: 65 Meeelions...

        "It wouldn't even be worth filling out the form with every laptop and phone you bought in the 00s..."

        Given that the case has nothing to do with phones, you're definitely correct there.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 65 Meeelions...

          Of course the case has to do with phones, if your phone came with a battery made by one of the defendants.

    2. Jtom

      Re: 65 Meeelions...

      Yes, usually the payout is quite small. Worse, is when you get a discount coupon for your next purchase of the product (which they raise the price of to offset the loss from the coupon). That's like throwing Br'ar Rabbit into the briar patch for punishment.

      OTOH, I have received settlements in the £100s to over £2000 on other class action lawsuits (I save virtually ALL my receipts and subscribe to a class action site). Maybe this one will be equally rewarding. Besides battery-powered electronics, I have a slew of cordless tools. (Hmm, I need to find out what a UPS uses).

  6. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    So does that mean

    that lithium iron phosphate cells will soon be dropping for their currently ridiculous price of around a grand per kiloWatthour?

    Nah, didn't think so.

  7. Greg D

    In an industry where value is based on research put in...

    ...there has to be some level of price fixing, to set a bar for friendly competition - it may seem bad, but I cant think of a single industry that wouldnt do this, where there products are based on very costly R&D.

    Not to say that some big companies don't go to far, as seems to be the case here - but to say that this isnt the norm might seem a little naive to me.

    There are other factors at play also, such as the market value for lithium, cost of getting it out of the ground, availability etc. You dont want to set prices too low that every man and his dog buys it, then suddenly realise global lithium stockpiles are dry. Maybe I missed the point here, IDK.

    1. Jtom

      Re: In an industry where value is based on research put in...

      Yes, you seem to be missing quite a few points here. Free markets, patent protection, and supply-demand pricing, for a start. If R&D was required, you protect your discoveries and processes through patents, forcing you competition to spend on R&D for different solutions. The most cost-effective solution has the edge in price competition. Free markets lets people charge what they need to to generate an appropriate profit. If the guy with the least expenses raises their prices too high, they lose market share to others, or entices them to develop a competing product.

      As supplies dwindle, demand will result in higher prices until the demand falls to meet the supply available. Hurricane Harvey has stopped 20% of the gasoline refining in th U.S.. The gasoline price i paid before the storm was $2.19/gallon (taxes are far lower here than in the UK). Today, a gallon would cost me $2.59, and will go higher if other refineries don't increase production soon.

      There is NO justification for price collusion. Each producer should establish his costs, look how he compares with others, what the price the market will bear (supply vs demand, again), and determine his own price should he choose to compete.

      1. sitta_europea Silver badge

        Re: In an industry where value is based on research put in...

        "...you seem to be missing quite a few points here. Free markets, patent protection, and supply-demand pricing, for a start."

        Oh - and the law.

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