AMSTERDAM Feb 16 A Dutch legal group said about
1,000 consumers registered with it on Saturday to claim damages
against Philips, one of several consumer electronics
firms fined late last year by the European Commission for
Consumer Claims, which represents the interests of
consumers, launched its campaign on Saturday in the Netherlands.
It said it is acting separately from the Dutch Consumers'
Association, which announced in December it was looking at
claiming damages against Philips and other electronics firms
involved in the cartel.
Philips is contesting the Commission fine. A spokesman for
Philips said on Saturday the firm was not aware of such action
by consumers and had not heard from the Consumer Claim group.
"We would regret it if consumers start a lawsuit
immediately; we prefer an ordinary, normal dialogue about these
kinds of topics if it is merited," Philips said in a statement.
The European Commission imposed the biggest antitrust
penalty in its history in early December when it fined six firms
including Philips, LG Electronics and Panasonic Corp
a total of 1.47 billion euros ($1.96 billion) for
running two cartels for nearly a decade.
The Commission said executives from the Asian and European
companies met until six years ago to fix prices and divide up
markets for TV and computer monitor cathode-ray tubes,
technology now mostly made obsolete by flat screens.
The EU antitrust regulator imposed the biggest penalties on
Philips for its role in the price fixing and carving up of
markets: the Dutch electronics, healthcare and lighting company
was fined 313 million euros and faces a further penalty through
a joint venture.