Underwriters Labs. Inc. v. Hydrofilm L.P., No. 05 C 5509, 2006 WL 2494748 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 23, 2006) (Guzman, J.).
Although this opinion deals solely with non-IP issues, it is interesting because it addresses how corporate websites fit into a personal jurisdiction analysis. Judge Guzman held that while the Court had subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff’s declaratory judgment claims (based upon defendants’s voluntary withdrawal without prejudice of a related suit against plaintiff), the Court lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendants.
Defendants’ sole contacts with Illinois were: 1) two contracts signed with plaintiff that were purportedly "made" in Illinois; and 2) a website that can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, including in Illinois. These contacts were insufficient to confer general jurisdiction. The Court noted that contracts alone cannot create general jurisdiction, and further held, after a survey of cases from other jurisdictions, that a website cannot create general jurisdiction. Otherwise, the Court noted, a website would create general jurisdiction "over any defendant in any state for any cause of action."
The Court also held that it did not have specific jurisdiction. The website alone did not create specific jurisdiction because the case was not related to the website. Without more, contracts with an Illinois party did not create personal jurisdiction. The Court also noted that, while the contract purported to be "made" in Illinois, defendants dealt exclusively with plaintiff’s New York office and had no direct business contacts with plaintiff in Illinois.