Samsung, Micron, SK Hynix accused of manipulating the price of DRAM chips1
The Korea Times reports that Samsung, Micron, and SK Hynix are being accused of fixing the prices of memory chips used on the iPhone and other devices. According to the suit, which was filed on May 3rd, the three companies are working together to dominate the production of memory chips in the marketplace allowing them to control the pricing of these chips.
The Class Action suit claims that the plaintiffs were victims of antitrust practices due to the drop in supply. The suit claims to represent Americans who purchased mobile phones and computers between 2016 and 2017, a period of time that saw the prices of DRAM chips rise more than 130% and the profits of the three chip companies double. A similar lawsuit filed in 2018 was eventually tossed out of court after the plaintiffs could not prove that there was collusion, and yet another lawsuit filed in 2006 was settled for $345 million.
Samsung, Micron and SK Hynix collectively own nearly 100% of the market for global dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips. According to Trendforce, Sammy's slice of the memory chip pie is at 42.1%, 29.5% for SK and 23% for Micron. "It seems to be going too far to say that the three chipmakers artificially inflated the price of DRAM chips. DRAM prices have displayed a downtrend over the last two years," Trendforce said.
The suit comes during a time period when shortages have been impacting the production and delivery of chips used to produce consumer products. The shortages, created by the global pandemic, could result in the shortage of processors, DRAM chips and other memory chips. Samsung and SK Hynix have a cross-licensing agreement allowing the pair to avoid litigation even though both are competing to design thinner, more advanced memory chips.