Reprieve for Hynix in chip price case

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Reprieve for Hynix in chip price case

Sun and Unisys must provide more evidence.

Korean memory chip maker, Hynix has won a temporary respite from charges that it conspired to push up prices. A California judge has ruled that Sun and Unisys failed to provide enough information in their case against Hynix, and said they must refile their complaint.

Hynix and Samsung of Korea both paid heavily to settle US semiconductor pricing-related cases two years ago. Hynix paid more than $180m in fines after pleading guilty to fixing memory chip prices.

However, problems have continued for Hynix. Last autumn, a senior vice president was accused of conspiracy to inflate DRAM prices, and Sun and Unisys also filed their pricing complaints.

Sun and Unisys are both major memory chip buyers, and customers of Hynix. Their complaints appear to relate, at least in part, to alleged overpricing during the period for which Hynix has already been fined by US trade authorities.

The companies claimed they were effectively overcharged when they purchased Hynix chips. However, they did not provide details of where the alleged overcharging occurred, acccording to the judge's ruling. The judge has given them 4 weeks to file an amended complaint with the missing information.

The suit also names other memory chip makers, including three from Taiwan, two from Japan, and Germany's Infineon, but it is not clear if the judge has requested additional information regarding these firms' chip sales.

Hynix's troubles stem from a US justice department price-fixing inquiry started in 2002. The investigation led to hundreds of millions of dollars in fines against several memory chip makers, and produced evidence which has been re-visited in later cases.
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