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

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?