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AT&T wins ruling in price-fixing suit against LCD makers

A view shows the AT&T store sign in Broomfield, Colorado April 20, 2011. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A view shows the AT&T store sign in Broomfield, Colorado April 20, 2011. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

(Reuters) - AT&T on Thursday won a ruling from a federal appeals court in a lawsuit against liquid crystal display panel makers alleging a price-fixing conspiracy.

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco reinstated AT&T's claims based on California law over panel purchases outside the state. The decision reversed a lower court partial dismissal of AT&T's lawsuit.

The manufacturer defendants, including Taiwan-based AU Optronics Corporation and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, had argued that AT&T's claims violated the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The three-judge panel for the 9th Circuit disagreed. It found that California's antitrust statute, the Cartwright Act, can be applied to the defendants as long as some of the conspiratorial activity leading to sale of price-fixed goods took place in the state.

Richard Taffet, an attorney for the defendants, declined to comment.

AT&T spokesman Marty Richter said the company was pleased with the ruling.

AT&T's lawsuit is one of several that have been filed against LCD makers for allegedly fixing prices. Those companies also have been the subject of a U.S. criminal probe. Last year, a jury in California convicted AU and two of its executives.

The case is AT&T Mobility LLC v. AU Optronics Corp, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 11-16188.

(Reporting by Andrew Longstreth; Editing by Howard Goller and Andrew Hay)