UPDATE 1-Oracle sues Micron, claiming price fixing

Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:40pm EDT

* Suit alleges overcharging of computer memory chips

* Oracle inherited litigation from Sun (Adds Oracle comment, time frame of guilty pleas)

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Oracle Corp ORCL.O has sued Micron Technology Inc (MU.O) for fixing prices of computer memory chips, in a continuance of litigation it inherited from Sun Microsystems.

Oracle, the world's No. 3 maker of software, accused the U.S. memory chip maker of colluding with other manufacturers to artificially inflate the price of DRAM (dynamic random access memory), according to a lawsuit filed on Friday. Between 1998 and 2002, Sun bought more than $2 billion worth of DRAM, the lawsuit said.

Five of the world's top DRAM manufacturers pleaded guilty between 2004 and 2006 to a criminal price-fixing, including two Samsung corporate entities. But Micron received amnesty from the U.S. Department of Justice for being the first to admit its role in the cartel, according to the lawsuit.

Oracle bought Sun in 2010 for about $7 billion.

"Sun sued a number of DRAM suppliers previously, but not Micron until now," said Michael Tubach, an attorney for Korean chipmaker Hynix Semiconductor (000660.KS).

A Micron spokesperson declined to comment.

"We have attempted to resolve this matter amicably but have now filed this suit seeking recovery of damages caused by Micron's involvement in an illegal conspiracy to fix the price of DRAM," Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger said.

Under antitrust rules, Micron's cooperation could limit its liability in any lawsuit with Oracle, Tubach said. Micron settled a private antitrust lawsuit in 2007 for $80 million.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is Oracle America v. Micron Technology, 10-4340. (Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Robert MacMillan and Steve Orlofsky) (dan.levine@thomsonreuters.com; + 415-348-4726)

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