Updated from 4:55 p.m.

In an early victory for

Micron

(MU) - Get Report

, the Department of Commerce agreed with the DRAM maker's complaint that overseas rivals

Hynix

and

Samsung

have pocketed excessive subsidies from the Korean government.

In its preliminary ruling, the DOC said U.S. imports of DRAMs had been unfairly subsidized between January 2001 and June 2002.

TST Recommends

Micron

filed a claim in November 2002 arguing that its competitors have received $12 billion worth of subsidies over the years, including loan write-offs, debt-for-equity swaps and favorable debt refinancings from the Korean government.

The Korean government extended a hand once again in December, when banks that it controls

arranged a bailout for Hynix, which has been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

The Commerce Department said today in its preliminary ruling that Hynix received net subsidies of 57%. Samsung received a much smaller subsidy of less than 1%.

The finding implies that if a U.S. customer buys $100 worth of Hynix goods, Hynix will have to pay a duty of $57.

Hynix called the decision "very disappointing" and "unjustified on both the fact and the law."

Farhad Tabrizi, vice president of worldwide marketing at Hynix, said the company would try to avoid paying the duty by shipping its DRAM products overseas, where they would not be subject to it. "We will try to minimize bringing in products that require this duty. The amount is not justified," he said.

He added that the company manufactures its main products, 256 Meg DDR and 256 Meg SDR, in a Eugene, Ore.-based lab. Those goods will not be affected by the duty, since they are produced in the U.S.

Micron shares closed down 7 cents or .9% to $8.07.