Have you bought a preconfigured big-box type PC sometime in the last five years? If so, you might have been slightly screwed over. That's what the European Commission claims, at least. Today, the EC announced that it is investigating 13 optical drive suppliers and two major PC OEMs for antitrust violations as part of an alleged long-standing "worldwide cartel" that ran a "bid-rigging" scheme to get the best prices for the parties involved.
In bid-rigging schemes, the bidders -- and in this case, apparently the OEMs offering the contracts, as well -- conspire to rig their offers to ensure a particular company wins the contract, often at a preset rate.
The European Commission press release said bid-rigging is "one of the most serious breaches of EU antitrust rules," eligible for a fine that amounts to 10 percent of a guilty company's annual worldwide turnover -- not just a percentage of the products that sold in the EU alone.
None of the companies were called out by name. Now that the EC has issued a Statement of Objections, it can begin formally charging the alleged conspirators and gathering additional evidence of the purported crime.