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Solo v. SD-3C LLC

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

May 14, 2014

DAN OLIVER; JEANNIE OLIVER; JOE SOLO; BERNARD GROSS; SUSAN KEELIN; WALTER KVASNIK; KOU SRIMOUNGHANCH; HUMBERTO GONZALEZ; SAMUEL D. LEGGETT; BRIAN ALBEE; MARY LOUISE FOWLER; JOE SHAW, On their own behalves and on behalf of all others similary situated; RHONDA SHULTZ, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
SD-3C LLC; PANASONIC CORPORATION; PANASONIC CORPORATION OF NORTH AMERICA; TOSHIBA CORPORATION; SANDISK CORPORATION, Defendants-Appellees

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

Page 1082

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. D.C. No. 3:11-cv-01260-JSW. Jeffrey S. White, District Judge, Presiding.

Amanda Bonn (argued), Susman Godfrey LLP, Los Angeles, California; Max L. Tribble Jr., Joseph S. Grinstein, Eric J. Mayer, Susman Godfrey LLP, Houston, Texas, for Plaintiffs-Appellants Dan Oliver, Jeannie Oliver, Joe Solo, Bernard Gross, Susan Keelin, Walter Kvasnik, Kou Srimounghanch, Humberto Gonzalez, Samuel D. Leggett, Brian Albee, Mary Louise Fowler, and Joe Shaw, on their own behalves and on behalf of all others similarly situated, and Rhonda Shultz.

Christopher B. Hockett (argued), Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, Menlo Park, California, for Defendant-Appellee SD-3C, LLC; Jeffrey L. Kessler, Winston & Strawn LLP, New York, New York, for Defendants-Appellees Panasonic Corporation and Panasonic Corporation of North America; Richard S. Taffet, Bingham McCutchen LLP, New York, New York, for Defendant-Appellee SanDisk Corporation; and Daniel M. Wall, Latham & Watkins, San Francisco, California, for Defendant-Appellee Toshiba Corporation.

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

OPINION

Page 1083

PAEZ, Circuit Judge:

In this antitrust suit, Plaintiffs, purchasers of SD digital memory cards, allege that Defendants Panasonic Corporation, Toshiba Corporation, SanDisk Corporation, and

Page 1084

SD-3C, LLC (collectively " Defendants" ) violated federal and state antitrust laws by conspiring to fix the price for SD cards and engaging in improper practices with respect to the licensing of Defendants' patents to other manufacturers of SD cards. The district court dismissed Plaintiffs' claims as time-barred. Reviewing de novo, we reverse. Von Saher v. Norton Simon Museum of Art at Pasadena, 592 F.3d 954, 960 (9th Cir. 2010).[1]

Recently, in a related action, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. v. Panasonic Corp., 12-15185, 747 F.3d 1199, 2014 WL 1328318 (9th Cir. Apr. 4, 2014), we held that the district court erred in concluding that the Clayton Act's four-year statute of limitations barred Samsung Electronics Company's antitrust claims for damages and injunctive relief against Panasonic Corporation, Panasonic Corporation of North America, and SD-3C. In this case, unlike the plaintiff in Samsung, Plaintiffs only seek injunctive relief under section 16 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. § 26. Because Plaintiffs seek only injunctive relief under federal law, their federal antitrust claim is subject to the equitable doctrine of laches and not the four-year statute of limitations in section 4B of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. § 15b. Taking Plaintiffs' allegations in the First Amended Complaint (" FAC" ) as true, as we must at this stage of the litigation, we conclude that they are sufficient to establish that laches is not a bar to Plaintiffs' federal antitrust claim. Accordingly, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

I

In giving factual context for the federal and state antitrust claims, Plaintiffs allege essentially the same facts regarding the development of SD cards as those alleged in Samsung . We therefore draw liberally from our Samsung opinion in setting the stage for ...


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