back to article Late $440m Christmas present for HP: Judge triples damages windfall from Quanta in CD-ROM drive price-fix showdown

A US judge on Friday tripled the damages Quanta Storage owes HP Inc to $439m for unlawfully hiking the price of optical disc drives. In October last year, a Texas jury awarded the American PC and printers giant a $176m windfall, footed by Quanta Storage for conspiring with rival manufacturers to inflate the price of optical …

  1. jason_derp Silver badge

    "...there are significant consequences when you violate US antitrust laws."

    Wonder how long it's going to take for that comment to whip around and sting HP themselves.

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: "...there are significant consequences when you violate US antitrust laws."

      Around 4 months or so, when the Autonomy trial judgement is handed down.

      1. NeilPost Silver badge

        Re: "...there are significant consequences when you violate US antitrust laws."

        Wrong HP.

  2. mevets Bronze badge

    When does HP reimburse its customers?

    I doubt HP just ate the inflated price of the devices; it most likely passed it on, with a generous markup to its customers. Could HP end up losing money because of having to reimburse the marked up amounts?

    I know, justice is more selectively blind than that; but HP isn’t the hero here.

    1. 9Rune5

      Re: When does HP reimburse its customers?

      Not sure I understand what you're on about here.

      HP's customers presumably had a choice of vendors. Unless HP colluded with other OEMs for similar price hikes, there is no unfair play?

      1. mevets Bronze badge

        Re: When does HP reimburse its customers?

        HP pays sony $50 for a dvd-drive; puts it in machine, charges customer $100 for it. Judge says sony was gouging, forces sony to give HP back $15 per drive. HP’s net cost drops to $35, so HP should only have charged customer $70. Does HP now reimburse its customer for over-charging? If 100% markup is fair; then HP should give every customer $30.

        HP, arguably, suffered no harm from the collusion, presuming that dell, gateway, ... were also suffering from this cartel. The actual victim was the customer, who got to pay both Sony’s inflated price and HP’s inflated markup of that price. Really, this is not an anti-trust victory, but a cash grab by HP.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: When does HP reimburse its customers?

          Ah, that's the rub though - did Dell pay the same? The rot may go deeper than this case revealed.

          1. mevets Bronze badge

            Re: When does HP reimburse its customers?

            This

            https://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/05/14/dell_court_case_odd/

            Plus This

            https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/06/26/dell_drops_optical_drive_lawsuit/

            Equals unsure?

            Did Dell drop the lawsuit because they realized that if they won, they would be out of pocket? How did Acers wind up?

            Since (Sony, Toshiba) sell computers as well as source optical drives, did they sue themselves? [ with acknowledgement to 'the rutles' ]

        2. JJKing
          Megaphone

          Re: When does HP reimburse its customers?

          If 100% markup is fair; then HP should give every customer $30.

          An HP Server in 1999 had a floppy drive fail a couple of months out of warranty. HP wanted $160 for a replacement floppy drive. I supplied a standard drive for $25 retail. I think HPs markup is slightly more than 100%.

      2. Snake Silver badge

        Re: When does HP reimburse its customers?

        The cartel's artificial inflation of part prices caused HP computers to be less competitive versus other options. If a Dell was even a bit less money than an HP, multiplied by a large number in a purchase acquisition, you are even more likely to choose Dell (HP's miserable long-term reliability, plus worse parts support, on mainstream products just adds salt to that wound).

        :double thinks: Maybe that wasn't such a bad deal for customers after all! -_-

  3. Denarius Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    however, for once

    Much as I mock Merkins, for once the USA had a decent law in place and it was applied. Well done that judge. Now if only the Oz circus would put down the brown paper bags and expensive lunch invites and pass anti-trust laws with teeth here.

    1. sbt Silver badge
      Meh

      Ignore the man behind the curtain

      We do have anti-trust laws here in Oz, of a sort. I think the most famous case here was the cardboard packaging cartel (Visy, et al.)

      1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Re: Ignore the man behind the curtain

        The Oz laws are excellent. The problem is the enforcement is shot to shit.

        ACCC, primarily. As an example of their AWESOMENESS, they PROVED that there was no abuse of market power in the Aust'n Dairy Industry, and that therefore the farmers were fully protected and had no grounds for action and had to just suck it up and take whatever price the milk-processors told them to take.

        They did this by setting up a test whereby the milk-processing oligopsony* would sell precisely the same milk to the supermarket binopsony under two different labels with two different prices. The ACCC howled with triumph when the report came back that the supermarkets had paid a higher price to the processors, and that the processors had captured all of that, passing none of it on to the farmers. Therefore proving that the market was working efficiently. And that there was no imbalance of market/bargaining power between farmers and milk-processors or farmers and supermarkets which needed redressing.

        Seriously. They said that.

        One of the more mind-scrambling pieces of publicly proudly presented "logic" I've ever come across.

        .

        * Monopoly = one entity's control of all supply; Monopsony = one entity's control of all purchases. Oligopoly = small number of entities etc.

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Re: Ignore the man behind the curtain

          As an indication of HOW fuckedup the ACCC is, internally, culturally, etc:

          There was a big push by politicians+public some years back to derail the parasites infesting it, to get it to go back to doing its pre-parasites job, by imposing strict "performance metrics".

          The only one not bowdlerised to pointlessness was the requirement to report the results of a survey of "External Parties"'s opinion of the ACCC, annually.

          The ACCC management have their heads so far up their own faux-elite arses that they regard their own staff as outsiders, and the survey is run on the staff. Then reported as external.

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: however, for once

      "Much as I mock Merkins, for once the USA had a decent law in place and it was applied."

      Americans have lots of laws in place to fine foreign companies. Whether or not they deserve it.

  4. Shady

    Next week

    Dell sues IBM for overcharging on 386’s....

  5. Korev Silver badge
    Coat

    Overcharging on removable drives? What a CD practice...

    1. dnicholas
  6. DasWezel
    Thumb Up

    Message recieved and understood

    > HP's lawyer Alex Roberts told Bloomberg: "HP hopes this judgment sends a powerful message to suppliers all over the world"

    Yes, indeed. "Don't deal with HP". Got it.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Message recieved and understood

      Customers should learn the same lesson.

  7. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Did they still get away with it?

    "In October last year, a Texas jury awarded ..."

    The original article is worth (re-) reading. I'd be interested to know how the damages compare to the amount of money that HP overpaid in the first place. They (HP) speak of billions of dollars of drives so it would only have to be a small percentage markup for the culprits to have effectively got away with it. (At least, until the damages got tripled. I expect that hurts.)

    If the odds against actually getting caught are N:1, the damages need to start at N * the benefit of committing the crime. I do sometimes wonder whether lawmakers and judges understand this point. They often seem to feel that N=1, whereas business types (especially crooked ones) take a different view.

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