Two Chinese firms are challenging the legality of the big players' DVD patent pools Global DVD giants Philips Electronics and Sony are expected to respond officially today to a class-action complaint by two Chinese manufacturers alleging price fixing, conspiracy to monopolise and five other acts in violation of United States antitrust laws. The complaint - filed in a California court on behalf of Wuxi Multimedia and Orient Power (Wuxi) Digital Technology and other mainland-based DVD manufacturers - also names South Korea's LG Electronics and Japan's Pioneer, who, with Philips and Sony, make up the 3C DVD Patent Group. The plaintiffs allege price fixing, unlawful tying of unessential patents, group boycott, conspiracy to monopolise and two counts of violation against Californian state competition laws. 'We see these violations of the law as a concerted effort to control the DVD player market, resulting in higher prices and fewer products,' said lead attorney Anton Handal of Handal & Associates. Philips, which licenses DVD patents on behalf of three other members of the group, has denied the allegations. 'We hope the judge will agree with us that innovation has its price and that companies should pay for the technology they use from technology providers like Philips,' a spokesperson said. Should the case go to trial, the DVD firms face an uphill battle against their own public image, which has been tarnished by allegations of anti-consumer behaviour, epitomised by the region-coding system that gives them significant control in the global market. Mr Handal was predictably bullish about his clients' prospects in an interview last week with the South China Morning Post. 'Twelve mostly retired citizens will decide whether the money should stay with these big multinationals - and they've had to pay 3.5 per cent on their DVD players, too. 'I'm in favour of intellectual property, in favour of the fair use of technology, but I'm also in favour of the system being fair to all participants,' Mr Handal said. Wuxi Multimedia was refused a licence from the group in 2002 and seeks a judicial declaration that all patents in the 3C pool are invalid under patent misuse laws. Orient Power, a 3C DVD patent pool licensee, seeks a refund of all DVD player royalties collected by the 3C group. The plaintiffs also seek a tripling of the damages.