The European Commission has contacted 13 optical drive manufacturers suspected of being involved in a five-year bid-rigging cartel, informing them of an investigation into what the Commission terms "one of the most serious breaches of EU antitrust rules." According to the EC statement, the manufacturers may have deliberately coordinated their bids in auctions for contracts with two major PC OEMs, artificially inflating the price.
While the identities of the suppliers have not been revealed, it seems likely that the long list includes some high-profile names, with 13 manufacturers representing a significant chunk of the European optical drive market. The Commission's initial contact is known as a statement of objections and will be followed by a period in which the accused parties can reply, examine documents, and request hearings with national and EU regulators. If the Commission finds concrete evidence of infringement, it may fine each company up to 10 percent of its annual worldwide turnover.