LAWSUIT AIMS TO PROTECT U.S. CONSUMERS FROM ANTI-COMPETITVE ACTIVITY
California-based Orion Telescopes and Binoculars has filed legal proceedings to address alleged price fixing and collusion by Chinese telescope manufacturer Ningbo Sunny, affiliate of publicly-traded Sunny Optical Technology (Group) Company Limited (SNPTF:USOTC), and its wholly-owned subsidiary Meade Instruments.
Orion is the last major world-wide independent telescope brand, and is owned and operated by its California employees. In an amended antitrust complaint, Orion has identified Ningbo Sunny and Meade as colluding with other Chinese manufacturers to fix prices and engage in retaliatory trade aimed at eliminating U.S.-based competition in the telescope market.
Orion’s suit alleges that the conspirators have caused US consumers to pay more for telescopes and eliminated consumer choice, including through the “systematic acquisition of key U.S. distributors and brands to create a vertically integrated manufacturing, distribution, and sales conglomerate.” The complaint states that
“In 2013, Ningbo Sunny colluded … to acquire Meade despite U.S. regulators’ concerns regarding such combinations, and that this is precisely what the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) sought to prevent years ago when it blocked the concentration of foreign telescope manufacturers and brands in the United States.” Meade’s website omits that it is now 100% owned by Ningbo Sunny.
Orion’s recent court filings seek to compel Ningbo Sunny and Meade to turn over critical documents regarding their collusion with third parties. Orion’s President, Peter Moreo, stated, “The information we seek from Ningbo Sunny and Meade is important. More and more U.S. companies are facing unfair competition from their own suppliers overseas. We are up against huge interests, but filed the action to help protect consumers. Defendants are hurting the ability of independent U.S. brands to fairly compete. I am afraid this is part of a far greater game being played by foreign manufacturers, particularly those in China, to hijack American brands.”
Orion’s complaint seeks over $5 million in compensatory damages, treble and punitive damages of at least $15 million, injunction against further anti-competitive conduct, divestiture of assets defendants are alleged to have illegally obtained, and attorney’s fees and costs.