EU fines Asus, Philips, and others for price fixing PC hardware and electronics

The European Commission is handing out fines left and right as of late. Fresh off of smacking Google's parent company Alphabet with a record €4.2 billion ($5 billion) penalty for breaking antitrust laws related to how it handles Android, the EU announced it has fined Asus and three other consumer electronics makers €111 million ($130 million) for fixing online prices of computers and various gadgets.

Asus absorbed the largest penalty of the bunch, with the Commission levying a €63.5 million ($74.2 million), which is the amount after subtracting 40 percent for cooperating with the investigation.

"In particular, Asus, headquartered in Taiwan, monitored the resale price of retailers for certain computer hardware and electronics products such as notebooks and displays. The conduct of Asus related to two Member States (Germany and France) and took place between 2011 and 2014," the Commission said.

According to the Commission, Asus intervened with retailers that were selling certain products below the resale prices it recommended, and requested that they jack up the cost to consumers.

"If those retailers did not follow the prices requested by manufacturers, they faced threats or sanctions such as blocking of supplies," the Commission said.

The Commission also fined Denon & Marantz €7.7 million ($9 million), Philips €29.8 million ($34.8 million), and Pioneer €10.1 million ($11.8). Pioneer received the largest discount at 50 percent, while the other two both had their penalties reduced by 40 percent, the same as Asus, for providing evidence to the Commission and "expressly acknowledging the facts and the infringements."

As a result of these companies putting pressure on retailers to raise prices for various electronics, European consumers ultimately paid more than they would have for things likes laptops, headphones, speakers, kitchen appliances, hair dryers, and many other products, the Commission said.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).