SMALL OHIO COMPANY WINS ANTIDUMPING CASE AGAINST NIKON
SMALL OHIO COMPANY WINS ANTIDUMPING CASE AGAINST NIKON CLEVELAND, March 31 /PRNewswire/ -- In an (American) David versus (Japanese) Goliath story, a small Ohio optics manufacturer has won an antidumping case against Nikon. The International Trade Commission (ITC) handed down a final judgment today in Washington in favor of Volk Optical, Inc., which has pioneered specialty optical lenses that have revolutionized the field of retinal examination. Volk, of suburban Mentor, was represented by the Cleveland law firm of Ulmer & Berne. Volk manufatures all of its products, including the precision glass lenses at issue in this case, at its family-owned plant in Mentor, which is east of Cleveland. Dumping is illegal in the United States and happens when a foreign producer sells products in the U. S. at a lower price than it sells them at home. The ITC judgment orders Nikon to place in escrow the difference, determined to be 158 percent, between what it charged U.S. and Japanese distributors; some of the money may be returned if Nikon restructures its prices. "When I saw their new price list in 1989, I was disheartened and worried that they were going to put us out of business," said Donald A. Volk, president of the optical company. "The viability of Volk Optical was threatened." At issue was a medical product called the aspheric ophthalmoscopy lens, used by ophthalmologists and optometrists to examine the fundus (or retina) of the eye. The lenses are necessary in examining for glaucoma, ocular hypertension, diabetic retinopathy and in determining causes of blindness. The lenses account for the bulk of Volk's business. Volk began to make inroads into Nikon's dominant market share in 1985 after Volk developed a new type of aspheric ophthalmoscopy lens, referred to as the 90D lens. In August 1989, Nikon dramatically lowered its prices (to levels mentioned in the lawsuit) for U.S. distributors selling in large volumes. In July 1990, Nikon altered the pricing structure again by reducing and then eliminating volume purchasing requirements altogether. Volk was forced to lower its prices in order to match Nikon's lower prices. It was up to the U.S. Department of Commerce to determine whether Nikon was dumping its ophthalmoscopylenses and the ITC's role to determine whether Volk Optical was being materially injured by Nikon's conduct. "We are willing to compete on an even playing field with competitors of any size, but we drew the line at Nikon's unfair practices," said Volk. On February 21, the Department of Commerce ruled that Nikon was selling the product at substantially less in the United States than it was in Japan. For example, in 1990 Nikon sold the 90D lens, one of the lenses in question, to U.S. distributors for almost one-third of the price it charges distributors in Japan. Volk lenses are sold at retail for between $188 and $208, depending on the type of lens. "Nikon's misconduct threatened to put Volk out of business, giving Nikon a virtual monopoly in this country," said Debra R. Shpigler, the Ulmer & Berne attorney representing Volk Optical. "That would have enabled Nikon to charge whatever it wanted for these lenses." Shpigler, a former prosecutor in the U.S.
Justice Department's Antitrust Division, coordinates Ulmer & Berne's antitrust and international trade practice.
"Volk Optical is a small, family-owned business which doesn't have the resources to stave off a huge conglomerate like Nikon, which had 1989 sales of $1.7 billion," said Shpigler. With the antidumping judgment, Volk Optical, which employs about 30 Ohioans, will again be able to compete in the U.S. market for aspheric ophthalmoscopy lenses, according to Volk. -0- 3/31/92 /CONTACTS: Debra R. Shpigler, Esq. of Ulmer & Berne, 216-621-8400; Donald A. Volk of Optical, Inc., 216-942-6161; or Marina Ergun/Tom Andrzejewski of The Oppidan Group, Inc., 216-771-9988/ CO: Ulmer & Berne ST: Ohio IN: MTC SU:
CG -- CL021 -- 3633 03/31/92 17:39 EST
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|Date:||Mar 31, 1992|
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