Lawsuits can drag on for years and years, sometimes even decades. When and if the long arm of the law reaches the culprits, sometimes it may no longer matter, which is why delaying tactics are often employed in cases. Such as this antitrust class action lawsuit against certain makers of optical disk drives or ODDs, a.k.a. DVD drives. After more than 7 years, the defendants finally settled the matter, but it might be a tad too late for consumers to dig out their decades-old receipts to claim their $10 share of the settlement.
The case itself almost took a decade to be resolved. ODD makers Sony, NEC, Panasonic, and Hitachi-LG were accused of sharing bids with each other in order to force OEMs like HP and Dell to pay higher prices. The lawsuit has already landed one Hitachi-LG exec a six-month prison term after pleading guilty. December last year, the named companies settled the lawsuit, pooling together $124.5 million for the settlement.
Part of that settlement will go to eligible customers, but this is where things get a bit messy, almost comical, thanks to the prolonged case. Not everybody who owns a DVD drive can make a claim, but only those who purchased one between April 1, 2003 and December 31, 2008. While a receipt isn’t actually required to claim that $10 share of the settlement, the fine print does say that, at any time, the Settlement Administrator may seek such proof of purchase. Well and good if you kept that receipt from nearly 10 years ago. And not everyone in the US are entitled either. Only those residing in Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, or Wisconsin during that period can make a claim.
The settlement covers all types of DVD drives, including those already built into assembled computers, those sold for installing inside PCs, as well as external DVD drives. Curiously enough, despite being one of those who settled the case, Panasonic’s own PCs are not part of the settlement.
SOURCE: Optical Disk Drive Antitrust