Oliver v. SD-3C

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Corporations
  • Date Filed: 05-14-2014
  • Case #: 12-16421
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Paez for the Court; Circuit Judge Gould and District Judge Ezra
  • Full Text Opinion

When seeking injunctive relief pursuant to federal antitrust laws, section 16 of the Clayton Act governs. To determine whether the complaint is filed in a timely manner, the equitable defense of laches applies, subject to both the continuous violations and speculative damages exceptions.

In 1999, Panasonic Corp. and other defendants (“defendants”) established the SD Group to further the use and sale of SD cards. A license was created that imposed a six percent royalty on “manufacturers who were not members of SD group.” One license provision allowed the defendants to use “the fair market price” to determine the standard for royalties. In 2011, Oliver and other plaintiffs (“plaintiffs”) sought an injunction pursuant to section 16 of the Clayton Act and California’s Cartwright Act, alleging that the defendants violated federal and state antitrust laws by intentionally engaging in price-fixing of SD cards. The district court dismissed the federal and state law claims, holding that section 4B of the Clayton Act set a four-year statute of limitations; therefore, the plaintiffs’ claim for injunctive relief was time barred. On review, the Ninth Circuit distinguished Samsung Electronics Co. v. Panasonic Corp., because there is no time limitation for injunctive relief sought under section 16 of the Clayton Act. This makes the plaintiffs’ federal antitrust claim subject to the equitable defense of laches not the four-year statute of limitations under section 4B. The panel determined that the continuous violations exception and the speculative damages exception applied when calculating the laches time period. Furthermore, the panel held that the district court erred in dismissing the plaintiffs’ antitrust claim under the Cartwright Act of California law. On remand, Aryeh v. Canon Bus. Solutions, Inc. should govern in determining whether the plaintiffs’ claim is timely. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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