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Gsi Technology, Inc. v. Cypress Semiconductor Corp.

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

January 27, 2015



EDWARD J. DAVILA, District Judge.

Plaintiff GSI Technology Inc. ("GSI" or "Plaintiff") brings the instant action against Defendant Cypress Semiconductor Corporation ("Cypress" or "Defendant") asserting unfair competition and violations of federal and state antitrust laws. Presently before the Court is Cypress' Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. No. 86. GSI opposes that motion. Having carefully reviewed the parties' briefing and considered the parties' arguments from the hearing on October 21, 2014, the Court DENIES Cypress' Motion for Summary Judgment for the reasons explained below.


GSI and Cypress are developers of Static Random Access Memory ("SRAM") products. Since the SRAM market consists of a small number of customers, early market entry is critical to a vendor's success. Customers in the SRAM market demand standardized products, and it is therefore critical for manufacturers to comply with recognized standards. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers ("IEEE") and the JEDEC Solid State Technology Associations ("JEDEC") are two recognized standard-setting organizations for memory components. These organizations provide an open and public standard setting process, in which all competitors in the market have equal access to the same information at the same time allowing for competitive products and competitive product introduction schedules.

In 1999, Cypress and two of its competitors, Integrated Device Technology, Inc. ("IDT") and Micron Technology, Inc. ("Micron"), entered into a combination which they named the "QDR[1] Consortium" (the "Consortium"). The purported purpose of the Consortium was to develop standards for higher performance networking SRAM products outside of IEEE and JEDEC. The Consortium members shared information and combined their market power to define and promote a family of SRAMs that would address the new market demand.[REDACTED/] [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/]

[REDACTED/] GSI, IBM, Samsung, and Motorola started a separate group known as "SigmaRAM" in order to facilitate the design and development of an open SRAM standard. [REDACTED/] the members in SigmaRAM opened participation to any company and compiled with JEDEC's standard setting process.

On February 16, 2000, the Consortium announced that it had completed the specifications of its initial QDR and DDR[2] SRAM architectural design. Even though the Consortium announced that it would publish the data sheets for QDR and DDR SRAM, it only did so after a time delay. With that delay, GSI alleges the Consortium members obtained a "time-to-market" competitive advantage over all SRAM vendors outside of the group. GSI further alleges that the Consortium, with its combined market power and limited membership, created exclusive but de facto product standards which allowed it to lock in customers and impede entry into the SRAM market, thereby harming competition and consumers.

After establishing the industry standard with first and second generation devices and taking control of the SRAM market, [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/]

According to GSI, the Consortium and its members have [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/] As a direct result of the Consortium's [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/] It is further alleged that with each new product released, the Consortium [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/]

In addition, Consortium members also required SRAM customers [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/] By its conduct, the Consortium allegedly harmed consumers by denying them the benefits of innovation in product development and lower prices.

GSI filed its original Complaint in this case on July 22, 2011 against Cypress for: (1) violation of section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1, (2) violation of California's Cartwright Act, Business and Professions Code §§ 16720 and 16726, and (3) violation of California's Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), Business and Professions Code § 17200 et. seq. Dkt. No. 1. Cypress filed a motion to dismiss the Complaint on September 14, 2011. Dkt. No. 14. The Court denied Cypress' motion to dismiss on July 6, 2012. Dkt. No. 26. On August 3, 2012, Cypress filed an Answer to the Complaint, and on August 24, 2012, filed an Amended Answer. Dkt. Nos. 34, 36. On June 20, 2014, Cypress filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and Daubert Motions ("Cypress Mot."). Dkt. Nos. 86, 88. On July 28, 2014, GSI filed an Opposition to Cypress' Motion for Summary Judgment and Daubert Motions ("Opposition"). Dkt. No. 121. In support of its Opposition, GSI also filed multiple Declarations of Robert B. Haig ("Haig Decl."), Patrick T. Chuang ("Chuang Decl."), Lee Lean Shu ("Shu Decl."), David Chapman ("Chapman Decl."), Robert Murphy ("Murphy Decl."), Robert G. Harris ("Harris Decl."), D. Paul Regan ("Regan Decl."). Dkt. Nos. 128-134.

On August 25, 2014, Cypress filed (under seal) a Reply in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment ("Cypress Reply"). Dkt. No. 173. In support of its Reply, Cypress also filed a Declaration of Dominique-Chantale Alepin and Exhibits A-Q under seal ("Alepin Decl."). Dkt. No. 174. The parties appeared for a hearing on October 21, 2014.


A motion for summary judgment should be granted if "there is no genuine dispute to any material fact and the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. R. 56(c); Addisu v. Fred Meyer, Inc., 198 F.3d 1130, 1134 (9th Cir. 2000). The moving party bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for the motion and identifying the portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, or affidavits that demonstrate the absence of a triable issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

If the moving party meets this initial burden, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to go beyond the pleadings and designate specific materials in the record to show that there is a genuinely disputed fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. The court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

However, the mere suggestion that facts are in controversy, as well as conclusory or speculative testimony in affidavits and moving papers, is not sufficient to defeat summary judgment. See Thornhill Publ'g Co. v. GTE Corp., 594 F.2d 730, 738 (9th Cir. 1979). Instead, the non-moving party must come forward with admissible evidence to satisfy the burden. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Feiner & Co., Inc., 896 F.2d 1542, 1550 (9th Cir. 1990).

A genuine issue for trial exists if the non-moving party presents evidence from which a reasonable jury, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to that party, could resolve the material issue in his or her favor. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986); see also Barlow v. Ground, 943 F.2d 1132, 1134-36 (9th Cir. 1991). Conversely, summary judgment must be granted where a party "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.


A. Statute of Limitations

Before proceeding to the merits of Cypress' motion, the Court will address its assertion that GSI's Sherman Act claims fail due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. Cypress argues that GSI's claims are barred by the statute of limitations because [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/] See Dkt. No. 101-6 at 13:5-18. The Court disagrees.

Under both federal and state law, an antitrust and unfair competition suit must commence within four years after the cause of action has accrued. 15 U.S.C. § 15B (Sherman Act); Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 16750.1 (Cartwright Act); Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17208 (UCL). While private antitrust claims are subject to four-year statute of limitations, a new cause of action arises "each time the plaintiff's interest is invaded to his damage, and the statute of limitations begins to run at that time." Hennegan v. Pacifico Creative Serv., 787 F.2d 1299, 1300 (9th Cir. 1986) (citing In re Multidistrict Vehicle Air Pollution Litig., 591 F.2d 68, 70 (9th Cir. 1979)). If a plaintiff "alleges a continuing violation, an overt act by the defendant is required to restart the statute of limitations and the statute runs from the last overt act." Pace Indus., Inc. v. Three Phoneix Co.. 813 F.2d 234, 237 (9th Cir. 1987). An overt act will restart the statute of limitations if: (1) it is a new and independent act that is not merely a reaffirmation of a previous act; and (2) it inflicts new and accimiulating injury on the plaintiff. Id at 238.

Here, GSI commenced this lawsuit on July 22, 2011. See Dkt. No. 1. Thus, the limitation on July 2007. [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/] See Exs. 103-06: see also Chapman Decl., ¶¶ 3, 9, 11. [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/][3] [REDACTED/] [REDACTED/][4] ...

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