This is one of a number of antitrust class actions against companies that make hard disk drive (HDD) suspension assemblies sold in the US. The complaint alleges that the companies conspired to eliminate competition, fix prices, and allocate markets and it brings suit on behalf of indirect purchasers of the products.
The companies named in this suit are Headway Technologies, Inc., Hutchinson Technology Inc., Magnecomp Precision Technology Public Co. Ltd., NAT Peripheral (Dong Guan) Co., Ltd., NAT Peripheral (H.K.) Co., Ltd., NHK Spring Co. Ltd., NHK International Corporation, NHK Spring (Thailand) Co., Ltd., NHK Spring Precision (Guangzhou) Co., Ltd., SAE Magnetics (H.K.) LTD, and TDK Corporation.
HDD suspension assemblies are used in computers, gaming consoles, and MP3 players, and they are also used in HDD standalone storage devices.
In 2016, the NHK and TDK companies were the leading makers of the HDD suspension assemblies, with a worldwide market share of more than 90%.
Government regulators in different countries have been investigating these companies since at least 2016.
In July 2016, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted an on-site investigation of an NHK company.
The Japanese Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) issued a cease and desist order against NHK and TDK in February 2018, after its investigation. It fined NHK and one of its subsidiaries 1.1 billion yen (nearly $10 million). TDK decided to cooperate with the Japanese investigators.
South Korean and Brazilian authorities have also been conducting investigations. Brazil has been investigating allegations that TDK and four other companies colluded to maintain artificially high prices and allocate customers.
In July 2018, the DOJ charged NHK Spring Company with fixing prices. NHK pleaded guilty and has agreed to pay a $2.8 million fine.
However, such government actions don’t repay consumers, who have been overpaying for items with HDD suspension assemblies for years. That’s the aim of these private civil class actions.
Two classes have been proposed for this action.