In re: Optical Disk Drive Products Antitrust Litigation

In a long-running, global, and multi-district litigation charging that optical disk drive (ODD) manufacturers conspired to fix prices, defendant companies Samsung, Toshiba, BenQ, and Samsung and Toshiba joint venture TSST received a rare summary judgment in their favor. While many other cartel matters involving various computer components have lost at summary judgment, in this case Judge Richard Seeborg, of the US District Court for the District of Northern California, found that plaintiff companies failed to show the alleged scheme targeted them specifically and that indirect purchasers failed to prove harm.

An Analysis Group team, led by Managing Principal Crystal Pike and Principal Mark Lewis, and including CEO Martha Samuelson, worked on behalf of the joint defense group, which originally comprised several defendants in addition to the four that sought summary judgment. Vice Presidents David Toniatti, Yao Lu, and Kristof Zetenyi and Manager Federico Mantovanelli were also core members of the team.

The Analysis Group team supported academic affiliate Professor Edward Snyder, Dean of the Yale School of Management, on damages issues. Professor Snyder authored merits reports in seven outstanding cases, in which he estimated overcharges, estimated average pass-on rates, calculated purchase volumes relevant for damages, and combined these estimates to calculate estimated damages. He also directly rebutted the expert reports of seven plaintiffs' experts.

In issuing summary judgment, Judge Seeborg ruled that “[e]ach case fails … for lack of proof of causation and/or cognizable injury,” writing that the indirect purchasers fell “woefully short of meeting IPPs' burden to show proof of pass-through.” The decision also covered important rulings on the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act (FTAIA), with the judge excluding non-US sales; and on vicarious liability, with parent company Samsung not held liable for its joint venture with Toshiba.