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Samsung Elecs. Co. v. Panasonic Corp.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

December 5, 2013, Argued and Submitted, San Francisco, California; April 4, 2014, Filed

No. 12-15185

Opinion

 [*1201]  GOULD, Circuit Judge:

We must determine the scope of the continuing violation exception to the four-year statute of limitations on private actions to enforce the antitrust laws. 15 U.S.C. § 15b. Plaintiff-Appellant Samsung Electronics Company ("Samsung") appeals the district court's dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) of its claim against Defendants-Appellees Panasonic Corporation, Panasonic Corporation of North America, and SD-3C, LLC ("SD Defendants"). ] We review de novo a district court's dismissal for failure to state a claim. Von Saher v. Norton Simon Museum of Art at Pasadena, 592 F.3d 954, 960 (9th Cir. 2010). We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and we reverse.

SD cards are the dominant form of flash memory card on the market, and are widely used in cellular phones, digital cameras, audio players, and other forms of mobile electronics.3 In 1999, Panasonic and its allies developed SD cards as a modified proprietary format  [**4] of the flash memory cards then available, created the SD Group to promote their use, and created SD-3C to license the format to manufacturers. In 2003, the SD Defendants created a standard license (the "2003 license") that contained a clause imposing a 6 percent royalty on SD cards sold by manufacturers who were not members of the SD Group. Samsung signed this license agreement, although it did not at once begin producing SD cards because it was then manufacturing a competing version of flash memory cards.

In 2005 and 2006, the SD Defendants developed two new forms of SD cards: the high capacity SD card ("SDHC") was the same physical size as the first-generation product, but used distinct software to give it a substantially higher storage capacity  [*1202]  than the original; the microSD card, designed for use in mobile phones, was much smaller than the first-generation product. By its terms, the 2003 license did not cover these new formats. The SD Group met in the fall of 2006 and adopted an "Amended and Restated SD Memory  [**5] Card License Agreement" (the "2006 license"), which contained the same 6 percent royalty terms for non-SD Group manufacturers of the two new formats as the 2003 license had required for the original cards.

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747 F.3d 1199 *; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 6256 **; 2014-1 Trade Cas. (CCH) P78,733; 2014 WL 1328318

SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO., LTD., a Korean corporation, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. PANASONIC CORPORATION, a Japanese corporation; PANASONIC CORPORATION OF NORTH AMERICA, a Delaware corporation; SD-3C LLC, a Delaware limited liability company, Defendants-Appellees.

Subsequent History: US Supreme Court certiorari denied by Panasonic Corp. v. Samsung Elecs. Co., 2015 U.S. LEXIS 660 (U.S., Jan. 20, 2015)

Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. D.C. No. 3:10-cv-03098-JSW. Jeffrey S. White, District Judge, Presiding.

Samsung Elecs. Co. v. Panasonic Corp., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180282 (N.D. Cal., Jan. 3, 2012)

Disposition: REVERSED AND REMANDED.

CORE TERMS

license, cards, statute of limitations, manufacturers, damages, limitations period, formats, anti trust law, continuing violation, overt act, antitrust, restart, memory, antitrust action, district court, anti-competitive, equitable, royalty, accrue, flash

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Antitrust & Trade Law, Regulated Practices, Private Actions, General Overview, Governments, Legislation, Statute of Limitations, Time Limitations, Remedies