An email suggesting collusion between Nvidia and ATI to keep the price of GPUs artificially high was read in court today as part of a class action lawsuit against the companies.

The suit combines 51 separate civil antitrust suits against Nvidia and ATI, now owned by AMD, alleging price fixing in the GPU market as the result of a conspiracy between the two companies. According to the allegations, the two companies held secret meetings to determine prices, synchronize their product launches and “stage competition” to camouflage their cooperation. The collusion has been going on for several years, according to the charges.

U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup told lawyers representing the plaintiffs, “This is not a bad document for you. It is not a home run but it is a base hit.” Alsup had previously criticized defense lawyers at the opening of the trial for attempting to keep “trade secrets” under seal and out of the trial, saying, “This court is not a wholly-owned subsidiary of your companies. I am against you hiding information from the public. If we get to summary judgment in this case, nothing will be under seal.”

The email, written in 2002, was sent by Nvidia Senior Vice President of Marketing Dan Vivoli to ATI CEO Dave Orton. In it, Vivoli wrote, “I really think we should work harder together on the marketing front. As you and I have talked about, even though we are competitors, we have the common goal of making our category a well positioned, respected playing field. $5 and $8 stocks are a result of no respect.”

“That’s not good for the defense,” Alsup said after reading the document. “A jury would like to see this.” A detailed breakdown of the suit against Nvidia and ATI, including graphs showing their pricing and release schedules before, during and after the conspiracy period, is available here. (PDF format)

Sources: techPowerUp!, ITExaminer,

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