EU details concerns about alleged smartcard chip cartel

The EU's executive body has sent letters to chip suppliers

The European Commission announced on Monday that it has launched a formal investigation into a group of smartcard chip suppliers who are suspected of breaking the European Union's antitrust laws by operating a cartel, and has sent letters detailing its concerns to the companies.

Although the Commission did not name the companies, it did confirm in January 2009 that raids were carried out on Infineon Technologies, STMicroelectronics, Atmel Corp, Renesas Technology and NXP, a Philips spin-off.

The Commission said at the time that it had reason to believe the companies had coordinated their behavior to keep prices artificially high. Following the raids, the Commission offered the companies a chance to reach a so-called Article 9 settlement. However a lack of progress has now led to formal proceedings.

Infineon, Renesas and Philips all confirmed on Monday that they had received an official Statement of Objections from the Commission. However STMicroelectronics said it had not, nor has it been involved in any settlement negotiations.

"It is not because settlement talks fail that companies get off the hook. The essence of settlement is to benefit from a quicker, more efficient procedure, and to reach a common understanding on the existence and characteristics of a cartel. If that is not possible, the Commission will not hesitate to revert to the normal procedure and to pursue the suspected infringement," said Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia in a statement.

The Statement of Objections is the first step in formal proceedings and officially informs the parties of the Commission's concerns. If, after the companies put forward their defense, the Commission concludes that a violation has taken place, it can impose a fine of up to 10 percent of a company's annual worldwide turnover.

Smart card chips are used in mobile phone SIM cards, bank cards, passports and identity cards.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags legalantitrusteuropean commissionInfineon TechnologiesRenesas TechnologyNXP SemiconductorsST-Ericsson

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Taking cybersecurity to the highest level and order now for a special discount on the world’s most awarded and trusted cybersecurity. Be aware without a care!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?