Risk & Compliance

Sony a Target of DOJ Probe

The Justice Department's antitrust division is conducting a broad investigation into the SRAM market, which has so far affected Cypress Semiconduct...
Stephen TaubOctober 31, 2006

Sony Corp. announced on Tuesday that its U.S. subsidiary, Sony Electronics Inc., has received a subpoena from the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division seeking information about its static random access memory (SRAM) business. The embattled technology giant did not provide any more details, except to say it “appears to be an industry-wide inquiry.” However, Sony officials assured investors that the company intends to cooperate fully with the DOJ, according to a statement.

Earlier this month, Cypress Semiconductor said it was notified that there will be an investigation of the SRAM market by the DOJ’s antitrust division. The company said it would make available employees, documents, and all other relevant information to fully support the investigation. About the same time, Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest maker of memory chips, said it would cooperate with a U.S. antitrust investigation into the SRAM industry, according to Reuters.

The wire service reported that Samsung’s U.S. unit Samsung Semiconductor Inc., received a subpoena from the DOJ regarding sales and marketing of SRAM products throughout the industry, citing a statement from spokeswoman Chris Goodhart. “Samsung will cooperate fully with the Department of Justice on this matter,” Goodhart said, according to Reuters.

The Associated Press described SRAM as more expensive than DRAM (dynamic random access memory), but faster and more reliable. It elaborated that SRAM is found in relatively small quantities in personal computers, as well as in disk drives, communications equipment, and networking gear.

Sony is still reeling from a worldwide recall of its lithium-ion batteries—used by almost every major laptop maker in the world—based on fears that the power cell could overheat and burst into flames, the AP noted. Last week Sony reported that earning plunged 94 percent in the third quarter.