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In a recent filing with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), Nvidia Corp., currently the world’s top supplier of discrete graphics processors, said that 51 customer complaints had been filed against the company. The firm is accused in price fixing and improper consumer protection. In another filing Advanced Micro Devices confirmed that it is facing the same lawsuits too.

In late November, 2006, both ATI, graphics product group of Advanced Micro Devices, and Nvidia received a subpoena from the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) in connection with the DOJ’s investigation into potential antitrust violations related to graphics processing units (GPUs) and cards. No specific allegations have been made against the companies.

However, in addition to the ongoing investigation of DOJ, both leading designers of graphics chips face class-action suits from various parties, including customers.

The filing by Nvidia says that as of May 14, 2007, 51 civil complaints have been filed against the chip designer. Although the complaints differ, they generally purport to assert federal and state antitrust claims based on alleged price fixing, market allocation, and other alleged anti-competitive agreements between Nvidia and ATI/AMD. Many of the cases also assert a variety of state law unfair competition or consumer protection claims on the same allegations and some cases assert unjust enrichment or other common law claims. The complaints are putative class actions alleging classes of direct and/or indirect purchasers of Nvidia graphic processing units and cards. The majority of the complaints were filed in the Northern District of California, several were filed in the Central District of California, and other cases were filed in several other Federal district courts.

In a recent filing with SEC AMD indicated that approximately 51 related antitrust actions have been filed against AMD, ATI and Nvidia Corp., in various states. According to the complaints, plaintiffs filed each of the actions after reading press reports that AMD and Nvidia had received subpoenas from the U.S. DOJ in connection with the DOJ’s investigation into potential antitrust violations related to graphics processing units and cards. All of the actions appear to allege that the defendants conspired to fix, raise, maintain, or stabilize the prices of GPUs and graphics cards in violation of federal antitrust law and/or state antitrust or unfair competition law. Further, each of the complaints is styled as a putative class action and alleges a class of plaintiffs (either indirect or direct purchasers) who purportedly suffered injury as a result of the defendants’ alleged conduct. The majority of the complaints propose a class period from November or December 2002 to the present.

In addition, AMD admitted that it is involved into a consumer class action to ATI, which is most likely to be the class action related to the lack of HDCP technology support by ATI Radeon-based graphics cards.

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