Flava Works, Inc. v. Gunter d/b/a myVidster.com, No. 10 C 6517, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Dec. 13, 2012) (Shadur, Sen. J.).

Judge Shadur granted defendant LeaseWeb USA (“LeaseWeb”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) & (6) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and failure to state a claim.  Plaintiff Flava Works pointed largely

Sage Prods, Inc. v. Primo, Inc., No. 12 C 3620, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 5, 2013) (Coleman, J.).

Judge Coleman granted defendant Primo’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction in this trade dress case involving a boot designed to cushion and prevent heel ulcers.  Primo did

Snap-On Inc. v. Robert Bosch, LLC, No. 09 C 6914, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. July 11, 2012) (Kocoras, J.).

Judge Kocoras denied defendants’ Beissbarth GmbH (“Beissbarth”) and Robert Bosch, GmbH’s (“Bosch Germany”) (collectively “German Defendants”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.  As an initial matter, the court denied plaintiff Snap-On’s argument that

Labtest Int’l., Inc., d/b/a Intertek Consumer Goods N. Am. v. Centre Testing Int’l. Corp., No. 10C2897, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Feb. 1, 2011) (Dow, J.).
Judge Dow granted defendant CTI’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction in this copyright infringement action. The Court did not have jurisdiction over CTI:
CTI was a Chinese entity with no U.S. offices.
CTI’s only possible contact with Illinois regarding the copyrighted subject matter was via its passive website.
Plaintiff Intertek offered no proof that anyone from Illinois downloaded the allegedly infringing chart.
CTI’s only connection was work in China for an entity with a parent entity in Illinois.
The Court did not award Intertek its fees and costs for defending the case or the case filed by Intertek in Connecticut. Intertek had credible arguments for each, and it was not forum shopping even if the arguments were eventually proven wrong.

Continue Reading Passive Website Written in Chinese Does Not Create Illinois Personal Jurisdiction

Free Green Can, LLC v. Green Recycling Enters., LLC, No. 10 C 5764, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 28, 2011 (Coleman, J.).
Judge Coleman granted the individual defendants’ and Aslan Financial Group’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b) motion to dismiss plaintiff Free Green Can’s trademark infringement and related state law claims. As an initial matter, the Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction as to all state law claims because while Free Green Can pled diversity of citizenship, it did not plead that the amount in controversy exceeded $75,000. Because Aslan Financial Group was only accused of state law claims, it was dismissed.
The federal trademark claims against the individual defendants were dismissed pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) because the individual defendants were accused of infringement based upon corporate acts of defendant Green Recycling Enterprises, of which each was an officer. But in order to state a claim for infringement, or any tort, by corporate officers or employees Free Green Can was required to allege each individual defendant had actively participated in the tortious acts. Because there were no such allegations, the infringement claims were dismissed.

Continue Reading Infringement Claims Against Corporate Officers Require Active Participation

Salud Natural Entrepreneur, Inc. v. Nutricento Internacional, Inc., No. 09 C 4417, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 27, 2011) (Zagel, J.).
Judge Zagel denied defendant Azteca Products’ (“Azteca”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction in this Lanham Act case. Azteca’s officer, a non-lawyer, purported to file an answer on Azteca’s behalf. Azteca then hired counsel who participated in Rule 26 scheduling conferences. Azteca’s officer then filed a Rule 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss without counsel, which the Court struck because it was not filed by counsel, and a corporate entity cannot act pro se. The Court then entered a default judgment and an injunction against Azteca. Azteca hired counsel and asked through counsel that the default be vacated. The Court vacated the judgment and agreed to consider whether Azteca’s personal jurisdiction arguments had been waived. Noting the “bizarre posture of the case, the Court held that Azteca had not preserved its jurisdiction arguments.
The answer did not waive Azteca’s arguments because as a pro se filing it was treated as never having been filed. But counsel did participate in Rule 26(f) conferences, although he filed no notice of appearance, and offered no suggestion that Azteca would challenge jurisdiction during that time. Furthermore, jurisdiction was challenged for the first time more than thirty days after the other defendants settled based upon discussions that Azteca did not participate in. Regardless of the legal impact of Azteca’s filings, by the time Azteca challenge jurisdiction, plaintiff had developed a “reasonable expectation” that Azteca would defend itself in Illinois.

Continue Reading Defendant Waived Personal Jurisdiction by Its Actions, If Not Its Filings

Merrill Primack v. Polto, Inc., No. 08 C 4539, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jul. 8, 2010) (Dow, J.).
Judge Dow granted defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss this Lanham Act case over plaintiff’s “Credit Lifeline” mark for lack of personal jurisdiction. Plaintiff did not claim general jurisdiction, relying only upon specific jurisdiction. Defendants’ only Illinois contacts were the sale of 212 books unrelated to the Credit Lifeline mark into Illinois. And defendants’ offer for sale of its Credit Lifeline book via an interactive website could not alone create specific jurisdiction. Similarly, injury to intellectual property alone did not create jurisdiction based upon the effects test. Harm to the plaintiff in the jurisdiction did not satisfy the test by itself. Defendant’s actions must have been intentional, aimed at the forum state and defendant had to know that plaintiff’s harm was likely to be suffered. But there was no indication that defendant was even aware of plaintiffs’ Credit Lifeline mark, or of plaintiff, from defendant’s first use of the mark in 2001 until, at the earliest, when plaintiff registered its mark in 2008.
Finally, the Court held that there was no persuasive reason that exercising personal jurisdiction would have comported with “fair play and substantial justice.”

Continue Reading Unrelated Sales Do Not Create Specific Jurisdiction

Chicago Bd. Options Exchange Inc. v. Realtime Data, LLC d/b/a IXO, No. 09 C 4486, Slip. Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 8, 2009) (Lindberg, Sen. J.).
Judge Lindberg granted declaratory judgment for defendant Realtime’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The parties agreed that the Court lacked general jurisdiction and focused their arguments on specific jurisdiction. Because plaintiff Chicago Board Options Exchange (“CBOE”) brought declaratory judgment claims, the analysis focused upon whether Realtime’s patent enforcement activities were directed at the jurisdiction. CBOE argued that specific jurisdiction was created by Realtime’s Texas patent infringement suit against, among others, Chicago-based defendants, including eventually CBOE. But the Court held that Realtime’s Texas action alone did not create specific jurisdiction, and the Court did not consider the Texas suit against CBOE because CBOE was not added to the Texas action until after the instant suit was filed.

Continue Reading Jurisdiction Over Declaratory Patent Claims Based Upon Location of Enforcement

Guiness World Records Ltd. v. John Doe, d/b/a World Records Academy, No. 09 C 2812, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Oct. 20, 2009) (Shadur, Sen. J.)
Judge Shadur granted defendant World Records Academy’s (Academy”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction in this trademark dispute regarding plaintiff’s GUINESS WORLD RECORD and WORLD RECORD trademarks. Academy’s website alone did not create specific jurisdiction because it did not allow users to purchase Academy’s products, it only told them how to buy the products. Academy did have limited sales into Illinois – three sales to two customers – and sent form email solicitations to world record holders from Illinois. And the Court held that Academy’s emails and de minimis sales could not create jurisdiction, either general or specific. The Court reasoned that if de minimis sales created jurisdiction, alleged intellectual property infringers could be hailed into almost any jurisdiction nationwide.

Continue Reading De Minimis Sales Do Not Create Specific Jurisdiction

More Cupcakes, LLC v. Lovemore LLC, No. 09 C 3555, Slip. Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 29, 2009) (Kocoras, J.)
Judge Kocoras denied defendants (collectively “Lovemore”) Fed. R. Cir. P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and Fed. R. Cir. P.12(b)(6) motion to dismiss the individual Lovemore defendants’ (collectively “Lovemore individuals”) based upon the fiduciary shield doctrine in this Lanham Act dispute regarding plaintiff More Cupcake’s LOVE MORE mark for use on t-shirts. The Court did, however, grant Lovemore’s §1404 motion to transfer the case to the Eastern District of New York.
The parties agreed that the Court lacked general jurisdiction and argued only specific jurisdiction. The Court held that it had specific jurisdiction based upon the effects test. Lovemore’s alleged infringing acts were aimed at More Cupcakes in Illinois when Lovemore approved sales of allegedly infringing t-shirts to Illinois addresses after being warned of the alleged infringement in a Patent & Trademark Office proceeding and in settlement talks with More Cupcakes. Lovemore’s interactive website coupled with sales to Illinois also created specific jurisdiction. The fact that Lovemore’s most recent Illinois sale was to More Cupcakes’ counsel did not impact the analysis. Lovemore still knowingly sold product within Illinois.
The fiduciary shield doctrine did not apply to the individual defendants, who were both owners and operators of Lovemore. The fiduciary shield doctrine denies personal jurisdiction over individuals who contact Illinois solely for the benefit of their employees and not themselves. But the doctrine does not apply to owners of a company that have discretion over whether or not they do business in Illinois. As Lovemore owners, therefore, the Lovemore individuals are not protected by the fiduciary shield doctrine.
For similar reasons, while corporate officers are generally not personally liable for corporate trademark infringement claims, More Cupcakes’ claims against the Lovemore individuals survived. Both individuals were owners of Lovemore and the Complaint alleged that they personally directed the allegedly infringing acts.
Finally, the Court transferred the case to the Eastern District of New York. While More Cupcakes’ chosen forum deserves deference, the material events regarding the alleged infringement all occurred in New York where the t-shirts were designed, made, offered for sale and sold. And the Court held that the convenience factors, such as locations of documents and witnesses, were all neutral.

Continue Reading Owner Can Be Personally Liable for Corporate Trademark Infringement