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Washington to get some of a $173 million computer-chip settlement

Thirty three states, including Washington, have agreed to a $173 million settlement with six chip companies who were accused of conspiring to keep prices inflated during the Y2K mania from 1998-2002.

The six firms, including NEC and Micron Technologies, admitted no wrongdoing. They agreed to a federal class action deal recently. The amounts of money distributed have yet to be announced. The four other firms, based overseas, are Elpida, Hynix, Infineon, and Mosel Vitelic.

The suit says consumers would not have paid the chip prices asked by those companies if the market had not been collectively rigged, according to a recent Washington Attorney General's office release.

Brady Johnson, who serves in the Washington AG's office, said: "There will be restitution coming to Washington for consumers as part of this settlement.  The federal court will determine how the funds will be allocated, including how much comes to Washington.  Until that happens, we won't know how much is coming our way."

Johnson is senior counsel in the AG's antitrust division.

He added: "One word of caution though – while the numbers look big, this is a nationwide settlement, so there are a lot of people who will be sharing the funds.  That makes it unlikely that individual refund checks will be issued.  Instead, we may use a "cy pres" process to distribute the money. Which means: it may end up going into a charitable fund since the actual individual amounts from the award would be too small.

The money, once authorized, will be paid over two years, the release noted.

The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.