back to article Capacitor maker zapped with price-fixing charge

A Japanese electronics maker has been indicted in America for fixing the prices of electrolytic capacitors. The US Department of Justice suspects Nippon Chemi-Con was one of eight global manufacturers that conspired to drive up the price of the ubiquitous components for more than 15 years. The indictment is part of an ongoing …

  1. vir

    Unfarad Business Practices

    Who would have thought that these crooks would have the capacity for such things?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Unfarad Business Practices

      This is just the first phase. Next they'll try to impede any potential actions taken against them as "groundless" while their current overcharge behavior continues. This won't stop until the market switches to other suppliers.

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Unfarad Business Practices

      @vir

      Who would have thought that these crooks would have the capacity for such things?

      It was inevitable that the Department of Justice would have to discharge their duty and charge the crooks

      1. frank ly

        Re: Unfarad Business Practices

        Let's see if they give admittance of their guilt and have suceptance to plea bargaining. The atmosphere in court will be dielectric.

        1. Mpeler
          Big Brother

          Re: Unfarad Business Practices

          And so they let the electrics die. It's a dead man that Tesla no tales...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Unfarad Business Practices

      Given the charge, let's hope the two parties don't sit too close to each in Court, otherwise, sparks will fly!

    4. Mpeler
      Coat

      Re: Unfarad Business Practices

      And all of this centsless price-fixing.

    5. Mpeler
      Coat

      Re: Unfarad Business Practices

      That would be tantalum to larceny.....

    6. swschrad

      Re: Unfarad Business Practices

      they coulomb understand that somebody would eventually shift polarity to protect the family joules. their resistance is futile. the EMF has them by the terminals.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If only they had more power they would have been inducted instead of indicted. There's more power in induction though it's only one phase.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Pint

      AC

      @AC

      If only they had more power...

      +1 for the first "AC" post for the current topic

  3. herman Silver badge

    Guilty as charged.

    Lock them up in a Faraday cage and throw away the key.

    1. Mpeler
      Pint

      Guilty as charged

      Only Far-a-day?

  4. Florida1920

    Four of its executives ... were charged

    And soon they may be discharged.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Four of its executives ... were charged

      Opinions on this are likely to be highly polarised. Doubtless the suspects will be trying to foil any further investigation.

  5. Rol Silver badge

    So, once again, the entire world gets duped by a price fixing cartel and once again it is only America who will gouge these companies for billions.

    Admittedly, the EU has on occasion stepped in and discharged its duty to protect its citizens, but somehow, I very much doubt the UK's, go it alone, department for bending over backwards will ever hold corporations to account. Even when the heavy lifting of proof has been done by the eager departments of others.

    As usual, if you're a British citizen, any redress for corporate overcharging will need to be rectified by buying a car boot load of gear stolen from a warehouse along with instigating a couple of fraudulent insurance claims.

    Surely it would be better for society all round if our justice system acted instead of leaving it to each and everyone of us to seek our own karma balancing restitution?

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      @Rol

      I very much doubt the UK's, go it alone, department for bending over backwards will ever hold corporations to account.

      In it's time, the "Department of Trade and Industry" was referred to as the "Department of Timidity and Inaction" in Private Eye.

      note:

      Department of Trade and Industry was replaced by

      "Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills"

      and

      "Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform"

      The names may have changed, but I doubt they will do anything

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        The Department of Trade and Industry was replaced by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills

        The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills were replaced by The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

        The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills was replaced by The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: only America

      Only America is large enough to take on such companies but even, based on past actions, the US does not act to protect American Citizens, even when they claim they are.

      If we are lucky someone will write about this in a few years and we will find out how Nippon Chemi-Con became targeted. Miss one payment, fail to fall in line, bite off more than allowed, try to compete or do as requested has cost other companies dearly. And there is always the need to remind everyone what can happen if the game is not played by the rules.

      Meanwhile smaller countries and their citizens are fodder, geese to be plucked at will. Could citizens of those countries change that? Sure but first they would need to have governments that represent them and their interests before all others. Without that in place our systems will ensure nothing changes. The best that can be hoped for yet more promises, bright flashing lights, new deck chair arrangements and better lies.

      1. swschrad

        they're gotten othere before in this scheme

        RTFA

    3. Smooth Newt Silver badge
      Meh

      karma balancing restitution

      Surely it would be better for society all round if our justice system acted instead of leaving it to each and everyone of us to seek our own karma balancing restitution?

      But what's in it for the people in Government who control the justice system? How would it help them to become even richer and more powerful? Generally speaking, it's the wrongdoers in the corporate world who have the dosh and directorships to splash around, not "society as a whole"

    4. LDS Silver badge

      Only America?

      Are you kidding? The US antitrust is sleeping soundly... especially when is should go after US companies like Microsoft or Google...

    5. swschrad

      this is the pun zone, pal

      there is a mutual electrostatic rejection for straight charges here.

    6. swschrad

      no pun, no point

      leadless comments are not a component of this dialogue. please respecify.

  6. Tinslave_the_Barelegged

    Resistance is futile

    There, I said it. I'm off 'ome.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What pisses me off about this

    Isn't that the price of electronics I buy is a few cents higher per capacitor or whatever. It is that despite fixing prices high, they didn't bother to make capacitors that fucking last. Instead we got treated to the bulging capacitors of the early 2000s, and even though that issue was fixed they are still one of the more failure prone items in modern electronic devices.

    Had they invested a bit of that windfall into making better products so that capacitor failures were rare I wouldn't begrudge them a little profit padding.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: What pisses me off about this

      Had they invested a bit of that windfall into making better products so that capacitor failures were rare I wouldn't begrudge them a little profit padding.

      I wonder how many failures are down to the equipment designer rather than the component manufacturer. Poor design will lead to (electrolytic) capacitors being operated too close to their specified voltage or ripple current limits, coupled with insufficient attention being paid to internal temperatures in equipment which cannot always be properly determined from case temperatures; capacitors can be very sensitive to excess temperature - two effects are that the maximum voltage and ripple current they can withstand both reduce as the temperature rises.

      I am not trying to let component manufacturers off the hook; I am just pointing out that in - service failures may not be entirely their fault.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: What pisses me off about this

        As a producer of product the ideal sale is a machine that needs replacing just after the guarantee runs out. Gell capacitors are ideal for this - the speed with which the dielectric gell will eat through parts of the capacitor and cause failure at normal room temperatures can be calculated to within a month over two or three years. Its not much more expensive to make them last 5 years rather than 3 but a nod and a wink over a long lunch could easily ensure your product lasts past two years but almost certainly not four.

        I doubt its written into the product spec but I bet it was discussed over a long lunch or two.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: What pisses me off about this

        "Poor design will lead to (electrolytic) capacitors being operated too close to their specified voltage or ripple current limits"

        Not to mention the likely shorting whiskers of legally mandated lead-free solder which grow over time effectively enforcing a far more limited lifespan on modern electronics.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: What pisses me off about this

          "Not to mention the likely shorting whiskers of legally mandated lead-free solder which grow over time"

          A good application of conformal coating does a pretty good job of preventing this happening.

    2. PNGuinn
      Mushroom

      Re: What pisses me off about this @Doug

      ISTR that the bulging / popping capacitor problem was somehow related to a newcomer to the market offering components at discount prices.

      Unfortunately, it seems that the formula for something-or-other (Electrolyte related?) was not up to snuff, rumour had it that the formula had been "borrowed" (snuffled?) from a competitor.

      Result - tears before bedtime some years later.

      >> End result.

      1. Bill Gray

        Re: What pisses me off about this @Doug

        @PNGuinn :

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor_plague

        Improperly formulated electrolyte was causing gas to form, which built up in pressure until the caps blew their tops and spewed goo.

    3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: What pisses me off about this

      I'd agree it's odd. I've got an amp from the 70's that's packed full of meaty capcaitors and has spent time in garages before yet still works perfectly yet more modern PSU's blow after a few years of use in perfect conditions from capacitors failing.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: What pisses me off about this

        PSU's Failing after a number of years???

        That's them working as designed then.

        I have an Amplifier (Class A, 30W/Channel) that I designed and built in 1972. It works fine. Had to resolder a few joints a decade or so ago but that's it.

        Nowadays, components are used because they are a few pennies cheaper than a better and longer lasting one. Running close to their design limit is done by design to ensure that they don't last very long, just longer than the mandatory warranty period.

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: What pisses me off about this

      "Instead we got treated to the bulging capacitors of the early 2000s"

      Most of which were knockoffs of Chemi-con and the other big boys.

      And they're still around. I just found a bunch in the PSUs of my HP LTO robot.

  8. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    I'm too late to the party. The one thing I wold wish for is a condensed version of all the comments.

    (Only few, and mostly non-native English, will get the reference.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cap/Con

      My capacity for puns is a drifting parameter but it appears your post condensed the many trees in these comments down to the single failure point of many puns.

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Cap/Con

        That's good enough for me.

        We still call them "kondensatorer" (condensers). Which are of a certain "capacitance".

        "Capacitor" is a bit like calling a battery a "volt-amperer".. Or, more correctly "tension-currenter".

    2. Commswonk Silver badge

      Only few, and mostly non-native English, will get the reference.

      Unfortunately being older rather than younger is also a prerequisite.

      But since we're on the subject:

      There was a young curate from Kew

      Who kept his pet cat in a pew

      He taught it each week

      A new letter in Greek

      But it never got further than µ.

    3. fedoraman
      Coat

      Jar

      I'm not leyden that one lie!

  9. Korev Silver badge
    Coat

    Nothing to worry about...

    Keep calm and solder on...

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Nothing to worry about...

      but lead from the front.

  10. sitta_europea

    Why is it illegal when a company does it, but perfectly sound common sense when a government does it?

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