| NEW YORK, March 6
NEW YORK, March 6 Think back to the devices you
had at the turn of the 21st century. One of the early iMacs or
iPods, perhaps. How about the Nintendo GameCube or Sony
PlayStation? What about that computer you tossed because it
seemed too slow... around 2003?
If you can remember owning just about any electronic device
purchased in the U.S. between 1998 and 2002, you could be due
some cash from a class-action lawsuit with a $310 million
settlement fund. You don't need a receipt.
"We'll take your word for it," said Tracy Kirkham, a partner
in the San Francisco firm Cooper & Kirkham, one of the
plaintiffs' attorneys. "Almost everybody who thinks they are
eligible is probably eligible."
The settlement is a result of a U.S. Justice Department
investigation that began in 2002 and resulted in allegations of
price-fixing among the makers of DRAM (Dynamic Random Access
Memory) modules. It led to a series of lawsuits that were
grouped together in 2007 in U.S. District Court in San
With so many plaintiffs and defendants, the case took a long
time to resolve.
The details were finalized late last year, so now it's time
to pay out. For consumers, the process starts this week.
Companies that purchased devices for their offices, as well as
electronics stores, could also be eligible to collect, Kirkham
said, but those who purchased large numbers of devices will have
to produce records, while consumers do not.
Kirkham suggested picturing where you lived more than a
decade ago and looking around that image in your head to see
what devices you recall.
"It's a trip down memory lane," Kirkham said. "We ask you to
sit there and do your best thinking."
Among the devices that used DRAM: video game consoles,
computers of all sorts, digital video recorders and players, MP3
players, personal digital assistants, DVD players and computer
Volumes of information about the case and an online claim
form are available on the settlement website ().
An advertising campaign has been launched in conjunction with
the opening of the claims period, which runs through August 1.
The minimum payment for a claim will be $10. Of the $310
million pot, $50 million is set aside for small claims. The
remainder will be split among electronics resellers, companies
that purchased equipment, colleges and states. Up to 25 percent
will go to the lawyers.
Defendants in the case and what they paid into the
settlement include Elpida Memory Inc ($4.3 million), Hitachi Ltd
($5.6 million), Hynix Semiconductor Inc ($50 million),
Infineon Technologies AG ($29.1 million), Micron
Technology Inc ($66.8 million), Mitsubishi Electric Corp
($5.6 million), Mosel Vitelic Corp ($2.8
million), Nanya Technology Corp ($3.8 million), NEC
Electronics America Inc ($20.3 million), Samsung Electronics Co
($113 million), Toshiba Corp ($7.5
million), and Winbond Electronics Corp ($2 million).