Antitrust & Intellectual Property

Rechargeable Lithium Batteries

Issue: Global price-fixing conspiracy

Lieff Cabraser serves as Co-Lead Indirect Purchaser Counsel representing consumers in a class action filed against LG, GS Yuasa, NEC, Sony, Sanyo, Panasonic, Hitachi, LG Chem, Samsung, Toshiba, and Sanyo for allegedly conspiring to fix and raise the prices of lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in violation of U.S. antitrust law from 2002 to 2011. Case updates and settlement hearing information are available online at reversethecharge.com.

We welcome inquiries from consumers who wish to learn more about the lawsuit and to submit their purchase history of devices and products containing rechargeable batteries. We will review all claims free of charge. Please complete the contact form below.

Battery price chart

These batteries provide power for ubiquitous consumer electronic products, including cameras, notebook computers, mobile telephones, smartphones, personal digital assistants, tablet computers, and handheld game consoles.

Factual Allegations in the Li-Ion Batteries Antitrust Case

As alleged in the complaint, the Li-ion battery industry has traditionally been controlled by a few, large Japanese producers. In the late 1990s, however, manufacturers from South Korea, LG Chem and Samsung, entered the market. Prices for Li-Ion rechargeable batteries began to drop sharply, by nearly 50% from 2000 to 2002, even as demand for these batteries was surging.

Sony, Panasonic, and Hitachi sought to stem the rapid decline in Li-Ion rechargeable battery prices and their rapid loss of market share due to the intense competition from LG Chem and Samsung. The complaint charges that at the end of 2001 or beginning of 2002, all of these companies entered into an illegal conspiracy to stabilize and raise prices for Li-Ion rechargeable batteries.

The anti-competitive pact was effective in stopping the steep decline in Li-Ion rechargeable batteries. Prices immediately stabilized after nearly a two-year period of rapid price decreases.

Li-Ion rechargeable Batteries prices often rose or remained stable, contrary to the expected effects of increased competition, decreasing costs, and the expected downward trend in prices characteristic of all technology products. Only the worldwide economic crisis in the late 2000s and corresponding drop in demand for consumer electronics caused a further decline in prices for Li-Ion rechargeable batteries.

The defendants collectively controlled approximately two-thirds or more of the worldwide market for Li-Ion Rechargeable Batteries throughout the Class Period, and over 80 percent of the market in the early part of this period. In 2011, sales revenue in the worldwide Li-Ion rechargeable battery market was approximately $14 billion.

The complaint alleges that as a direct result of the defendants’ alleged anticompetitive and unlawful conduct, consumers across America paid artificially inflated prices for Li-Ion rechargeable batteries.