Occidental Hoteles Mgt., S.L. v. Hargrave Group, LLC, No. 08 C 2165, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jul. 24, 2009) (Gottschall, J.)

Judge Gottschall held that the Court lacked personal jurisdiction over plaintiff’s trademark claims related to defendant’s use of the sites in a suit which allegedly incorporates plaintiff’s marks, to tell the alleged story of plaintiff’s alleged negligence.  Defendant did not maintain offices or employees in Illinois and did not maintain an agent for service in Illinois. In fact, defendant’s only Illinois connection was the listing on a website of defendant’s of a martial arts instructor in Illinois. The fact that defendant also maintained interactive websites could not create general jurisdiction pursuant to Zippo. Interactive websites alone can at most create specific jurisdiction. The Court also lacked specific jurisdiction. The websites in suit were not interactive, and the only site with an Illinois connection, the marital arts site, was not in the suit.

While a Court generally cannot transfer a cure pursuant to § 1409(a) without first having jurisdiction and venue, courts can do so in the interests of justice. In this case, the Court held that justice required a transfer to the Northern District of Oklahoma. Both parties alternatively sought transfer and the case had already been in the Northern District of Illinois for fifteen months.