June 15, 2015 / 1:41 PM / 4 years ago

Supreme Court rejects AU Optronics over $500 million price-fixing fine

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a challenge by AU Optronics Corp to a $500 million criminal fine the Taiwan-based company was ordered to pay in 2012 after a conviction for price-fixing in the market for liquid crystal display panels.

The high court left in place a July 2014 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that the fine was consistent with U.S. law. The appeals court said the company and two of its employees were properly convicted.

The court also rejected a related case in which Motorola Mobility LLC was seeking to revive an antitrust lawsuit against AU Optronics and other Asian companies over the price-fixing.

Motorola had purchased panels from the companies.

In the criminal case, AU Optronics said the $500 million fine imposed by a federal judge after a jury trial was excessive because it included alleged gains to co-conspirators.

The company argued the case could not be brought in U.S. courts because much of the alleged conspiracy took place outside the United States and there was no direct impact on American consumers.

In the Motorola case, the court left intact a November 2014 ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago in favor of AU Optronics and other Asian companies.

The appeals court said Motorola, a subsidiary of Lenovo Group Ltd, could not invoke U.S. antitrust law because the “immediate victims” had been non-U.S. subsidiaries that had bought most of the liquid crystal display screens that carried inflated prices.

The cases are: Hsiung v. U.S., U.S. Supreme Court, No. 14-1112, and Motorola v. AU Optronics, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 14-1122.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham

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