CRA economists advised Micron Technology Inc. in a lawsuit brought by Oracle America Inc. over an alleged conspiracy to increase the price of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips. In 2010, Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems, which had purchased DRAM products from Micron and others named in the conspiracy. The US Department of Justice began investigating allegations of price fixing in the DRAM industry in 2002. CRA economists advised Micron throughout the initial investigation by the DOJ and in subsequent civil antitrust litigation. Oracle brought suit in 2010 and CRA’s expert reports were filed in March 2012. The plaintiffs agreed to settle the matter a few days after CRA’s expert reports were filed.
Over the years, the CRA Oakland team has developed deep expertise in the economics of the semiconductor industry. CRA’s team’s analyses focused on the cyclicality inherent in the industry where manufacturers face huge pressure to invest in new technology to stay competitive. The period in dispute (1998 to 2002) coincided with a tech boom in the industry. Using data for a longer period, which included several complete industry cycles (boom and bust periods), the CRA team was able to show that the main determinants of DRAM price in the relevant period were industry cycles, costs of production and purchase mix, not the alleged conspiracy.
CRA’s team filed an expert report on liability issues as well as an export report on damages.