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Samsung Electronics Co. v. Panasonic Corp.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

April 4, 2014

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

Argued and Submitted, San Francisco, California: December 5, 2013.

Page 1200

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.

Robert A. Long, Jr. and Timothy C. Hester, Covington & Burling LLP, Washington, D.C.; Kathleen M. Sullivan (argued) and Kevin P.B. Johnson, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, New York, New York, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Jeffrey L. Kessler (argued), Aldo A. Badini, James F. Lerner, and Susannah P. Torpey, Winston & Strawn LLP, New York, New York; Ian L Papendick, Winston & Strawn LLP, San Francisco, California, for Defendants-Appellees Panasonic Corporation and Panasonic Corporation of North America.

Christopher B. Hockett, Neal A. Potischman, and Samantha H. Knox, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, Menlo Park, California, for Defendant-Appellee SD-3C, LLC.

Before: Ronald M. Gould and Richard A. Paez, Circuit Judges, and David A. Ezra, District Judge.[*] Opinion by Judge Gould.

OPINION

Page 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.

I

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.[1] In 1999, Panasonic and its allies developed SD cards as a modified proprietary format 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 ...


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