Direct Fitness Sol’ns., LLC v. Direct Fitness Sol’ns., LLC, No. 17 C 5316, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Nov. 16, 2017) (Bucklo, J.).

Judge Bucklo granted defendant’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and to find this trademark case exceptional.

The Court held that it lacked personal jurisdiction for at least the following reasons:

  • Plaintiff did not dispute that defendant did not have a place of business in Illinois and that its fitness business was located in Florida.
  • Plaintiff’s identified sales of fitness equipment in Illinois were actually to a third party in Missouri that resold to defendant. The sale to an intermediary in Illinois did not create personal jurisdiction over defendant.
  • There was no evidence that defendant “aimed” its activities at plaintiff or Illinois. The only evidence of alleged “aiming” was plaintiff’s unsupported belief.

The Court held that defendant was the prevailing party even though defendant’s successful result was procedural — not substantive, and plaintiff was free to refile in Florida. Plaintiff’s unsupported jurisdictional allegations and theories alone did not make the case exceptional. But those deficiencies, combined with plaintiff’s “distinctively coercive pre-litigation tactics” created an inference that plaintiff filed in Illinois not because it believed there was jurisdiction, but because plaintiff saw “defendant as easy prey, susceptible to quick settlement if threatened with litigation.” That inference was reinforced by plaintiff’s “flimsy” response to the instant motion. The Court gave defendant two weeks to submit a proposed order itemizing its fees and providing supporting evidence.