US appeals court questions Motorola’s price-fixing lawsuit against Asian suppliers

Mobile handset manufacturer Motorola Mobility's price-fixing lawsuit against several Asian suppliers is being questioned by a US appeals court; a move which hints at a possible blow to the overseas reach of US antitrust law.

At a hearing in Chicago on Thursday, a three-judge panel of the 7th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals appeared skeptical of Motorola's efforts to sue a number of Asian suppliers for price-fixing.

The main point which was questioned by the judges with regard t the lawsuit filed by Motorola was whether the price-fixing accusations leveled by Motorola against Asian suppliers had enough connection to the US, for the case to be heard in US courts.

The lawsuit dates back to 2009, when Motorola Mobility - which is now a unit of China's Lenovo Group - had sued some Asian suppliers in Chicago federal court. Motorola had asserted in the lawsuit that a few of its subsidiaries had overpaid for liquid crystal display (LCD) screens because of an apparent price-fixing conspiracy in Asia. The lawsuit also said that some LCD screens had entered the US market.

With regard to Motorola's attempts to sue Asian suppliers in the US, Judge Richard Posner - one of the panel members - questioned the consistency of Motorola's legal positions, and said: "For tax purposes, you treat the foreign subsidiaries as separate, but for antitrust purposes, you treat them as part of Motorola."

United States