Samsung Electronics v. Panasonic Corp.

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Tort Law
  • Date Filed: 04-04-2014
  • Case #: 12-15185
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Gould for the Court; Circuit Judge Paez and District Judge Ezra
  • Full Text Opinion

A plaintiff may allege a continuing antitrust violation that allows the plaintiff to bring a claim within four years of a later violation, if there is a new and independent act by the defendant that does more than reaffirm the previous violation, and the new act inflicts some new and accumulating injury upon the plaintiff.

In 2003, Samsung Electronics Co., LTD. (“Samsung”) entered into a licensing agreement with Panasonic Corporation (“Panasonic”). The agreement permitted Samsung to manufacture a small memory card (“SD card”) in exchange for a six percent royalty. In 2006, Samsung began manufacturing SD cards and paid the royalties to Panasonic. In July 2010, Samsung filed a suit against Panasonic alleging that Panasonic’s licensing arrangement was an impermissible restraint of trade, and that Panasonic was monopolizing the SD memory card market. The district court dismissed the suit as time-barred under the antitrust statute’s four-year limitation. Samsung appealed. The Ninth Circuit held that a party may allege a continuing violation that extends the statute of limitations beyond four years if: 1) there is a new and independent act by the defendant that does more than reaffirm the previous violation; and, 2) the new act inflicts some new and accumulating injury upon the plaintiff. The panel held that the enforcement of the licensing agreement between the parties was a continuing violation that extended the timeliness of Samsung’s claim. The panel also held that because the harm that later befell Samsung was uncertain at the time of the antitrust violation, the statute of limitations did not begin to run until Samsung’s damages accrued and became ascertainable. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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