AMSTERDAM, Feb 16 (Reuters) - A Dutch group said on Saturday it had started collecting names of consumers who want to claim damages against Philips, one of several consumer electronics firms fined late last year by the European Commission for uncompetitive practices.
Consumer Claims, which represents the interests of consumers, said it is acting separately from the Dutch Consumers' Association, which announced in December it was looking at claiming damages against Philips and other electronics firms involved in the cartel.
Philips is contesting the Commission fine. A spokesman for Philips said on Saturday the firm was not aware of such action by consumers and had not heard from the Consumer Claim group.
"We would regret it if consumers start a lawsuit immediately; we prefer an ordinary, normal dialogue about these kinds of topics if it is merited," Philips said in a statement.
The European Commission imposed the biggest antitrust penalty in its history in early December when it fined six firms including Philips, LG Electronics and Panasonic Corp a total of 1.47 billion euros ($1.96 billion) for running two cartels for nearly a decade.
The Commission said executives from the Asian and European companies met until six years ago to fix prices and divide up markets for TV and computer monitor cathode-ray tubes, technology now mostly made obsolete by flat screens.
The EU antitrust regulator imposed the biggest penalties on Philips for its role in the price fixing and carving up of markets: the Dutch electronics, healthcare and lighting company was fined 313 million euros and faces a further penalty through a joint venture.