NHK, TDK Must Face Antitrust Suit Over Disk Drives

NHK Spring Co. and TDK Corp. must face antitrust litigation over their alleged scheme to inflate the price of hard disk drive suspension assemblies, a critical computer component, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled Wednesday, September 22, while also trimming the lawsuit.

Judge Maxine M. Chesney let the proposed class action move forward in the US District Court for the Central District of California with claims on behalf of consumers and resellers under the antitrust, consumer protection, and unjust enrichment laws of dozens of states.

The challenged conduct lasted from approximately May 2008 through at least April 2016. Antitrust authorities around the world, including the Japanese Fair Trade Commission (JFTC), the US Department of Justice Antitrust Division, and the Brazil’s CADE, have launched investigations into allegations that the defendant companies colluded to fix prices of HDD suspension assemblies, according to the plaintiffs.

In July, the Department of Justice announced that NHK had agreed to plead guilty to fixing prices for suspension assemblies used in hard disk drives. The company agreed to pay a US$28.5 million criminal antitrust fine. In 2018, the JFTC issued a cease and desist order to both TDK and NHK and found that they substantially restrained competition in the HDD suspension assemblies market by agreeing to maintain sales prices.

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