Viahart LLC v. Partnerships & Unincorporated Assocs. identified on schedule A, No. 19 C 8181, Slip Op. (N.D. I.. Apr. 4, 2022) (Alonso, J.).

Judge Alonso denied plaintiff Viahart’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(6) motion to reopen its case and to permit limited jurisdictional discovery in this Doe case involving Amazon sales related to Viahart’s

Modern Trade Comms., Inc. v. PSMJ Resources, Inc., No. 10 C 5380, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 19, 2011) (Pallmeyer, J.).
Judge Pallmeyer granted defendants PSMJ Resources’ (“PSMJ”) and Oser Communications’ (“Oser”) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction in this Lanham Act case involving plaintiff Modern Trade Communications’ (“MTC”) rights in its Metal Construction News mark for a metal industry trade publication. At the Metalcon tradeshow in 2010, Oser distributed a daily publication entitled Metal Daily News at PSMJ’s direction. MTC alleged that the Metal Daily News title infringed its Metal Construction News mark, which MTC used to publish an official show guide at the same conference.
PSMJ was a Massachusetts company without offices or personnel in Illinois. It approximated that 3% of its revenue at the 2009 Metalcon show in Florida was from Illinois residents. PSMJ’s website was not interactive. PSMJ did produce six training seminars unrelated to Metalcon in Illinois. PSMJ’s small revenues from Illinois residents did not create general jurisdiction. While related to Metalcon, PSMJ’s contract with a third party in Illinois did not create specific jurisdiction. And PSMJ’s production of the 2002 Metalcon in Illinois did not create specific jurisdiction because the accused Metal Daily News was only distributed at the 2010 Metalcon in Las Vegas. The Court, therefore, had neither general nor specific jurisdiction over PSMJ.
Oser was an Arizona company without offices or personnel in Illinois, although Oser did distribute publications at two to three trade shows per year in Chicago. Oser’s website was passive, except that the 2010 Metal Daily News was available on the site for downloading. Attendance at two to three trade shows each year in Chicago did not create the systematic contacts necessary for general jurisdiction. Oser’s website was not sufficient to create specific jurisdiction. MTC made no allegation that the website was targeted at Illinois, and the availability of the publication as a free download was not sufficient either. And MTC did not allege how Oser’s alleged infringement in Las Vegas was tied to Oser’s Illinois activities. Furthermore, the sale of an advertisement in the Metal Daily News to an Illinois resident, even combined with the website allegations, was not sufficient to create specific jurisdiction.
The Court also denied MTC’s motion to amend because it did not allege any new facts that might create personal jurisdiction.

Continue Reading No Personal Jurisdiction Based Upon a Passive Website and a Single Advertisement

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

The Ticketreserve, Inc. v. Viagogo, Inc., No. 08 C 502, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 11, 2009) (Kendall, J.).
Judge Kendall denied defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(3) motion in limine for improper venue and granted defendant Viagogo, Inc.’s (“Viagogo”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Defendants agreed that venue was improper based on an arbitration clause in a nondisclosure agreement the parties requested when they explored a joint venture. Defendants agreed that the patented technology was disclosed pursuant to the nondisclosure agreement.
But because plaintiff’s international patent on the same technology as the U.S. patent, issued before the nondisclosure agreement the patent infringement claim was expressly excluded from the nondisclosure agreement and its arbitration claims.
The Court then dismissed Viagogo for lack of personal jurisdiction. Viagogo had no contract with Illinois to create personal jurisdiction. And while the interactive website likely created specific jurisdiction for its owner, the evidence suggested that Viagogo Ltd., which did not contest personal jurisdiction owned and operated the website, not Viagogo, Inc.

Continue Reading Nondisclosure Arbitration Clause Does Not Include Patent Infringement Claims

Poparic v. Lincoln Square Video, No. 08 C 3491, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 25, 2009) (Kocoras, J.).
Judge Kocoras granted defendant Taste of Europe’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Plaintiff alleged that Taste of Europe sold a single copy of plaintiff’s copyrighted movie in its Indiana store and argued only that the Court had general jurisdiction over Taste of Europe, without addressing specific jurisdiction. Taste of Europe presented evidence that it was an Indiana-based business that did not advertise in Illinois or conduct any business in or with Illinois. Plaintiff did not present any evidence of Taste of Europe’s Illinois connections, but sought jurisdictional discovery. The Court, however, found that it lacked personal jurisdiction, holding that jurisdictional discovery was not appropriate where plaintiff had identified no evidence showing Illinois connections to overcome Taste of Europe’s proofs.

Continue Reading Request for Jurisdictional Discovery Does Not Overcome Lack of Evidence

Merrill Primack v. Pearl B. Polto, Inc., No. 08 C 4539, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jul. 8, 2009) (Dow, J.).
Judge Dow granted the Polto defendants’ (collectively “Polto”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction in this Lanham Act dispute regarding plaintiff’s “Credit Lifeline” mark. Plaintiff alleged only specific jurisdiction, not general jurisdiction. Plaintiff’s evidence of specific jurisdiction was based upon the following facts: 1) Polto’s 2006 trip to Chicago to put on a Credit Lifeline seminar; and 2) Polto’s interactive website. Polto, however, had not been aware of plaintiff’s trademark during the 2006 trip. Plaintiff did not file for its trademark until 2008. So, when Polto made its 2006 trip there was no evidence of notice of plaintiff’s mark. Furthermore, no one attended Polto’s 2006 Chicago seminar and Polto returned to Philadelphia immediately after leaving the seminar site. Finally, the Court held that Polto’s interactive website by itself could not confer specific jurisdiction.

Continue Reading Single Visit to Jurisdiction Before Notice of a Trademark Does Not Create Jurisdiction

UTStarcom, Inc. v. Starent Networks, Corp., No. 07 C 2582, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 25, 2009) (Lindberg, Sen. J.).
Judge Lindberg denied the individual defendant’s Fed. R. Civ P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The individual defendant’s four business trips to Illinois and prior work in California for plaintiff did not create general jurisdiction. But the Court did have specific jurisdiction over the individual defendant. Individual defendant was president of defendant Starent. As president, he had authority over Starent’s alleged pattern of hiring away plaintiff’s employees and allegedly misappropriating plaintiff’s trade secrets from those employees. Because the alleged trade secret misappropriation harmed plaintiff’s Illinois-based business in Illinois, the Court had general jurisdiction over Starent and its president, the individual defendant.

Continue Reading Alleged Harm to Plaintiff in Illinois Creates Specific Jurisdiction

Richter v. INSTAR Enterprises Int’l, Inc., No. 08 C 50026, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 23, 2009) (Kapala, J.).
Judge Kapala granted defendant INSTAR’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss plaintiff’s copyright infringement claims for lack of personal jurisdiction. INSTAR did not have sufficient contacts with Illinois for general jurisdiction. INSTAR did not maintain offices or otherwise regularly do business in Illinois. Its contacts with Illinois were: 1) its interactive website; and 2) INSTAR’s customer’s resale of its products within Illinois. Additionally, INSTAR produced undisputed evidence that less than .1% of its business came from Illinois and that none of the accused products were sold directly into Illinois.
Similarly, the Court lacked specific jurisdiction. While plaintiff was allegedly harmed in Illinois, the effects doctrine was not satisfied because INSTAR was not charged with an intentional tort and INSTAR’s unrefuted evidence showed that it did not intend to infringe plaintiff’s copyrights. INSTAR’s website did not create specific jurisdiction either. There was no evidence that INSTAR made any sales into Illinois from its website. And the only evidence of anyone from Illinois accessing the website was based upon plaintiff’s representatives accessing the site. Finally, the entry of INSTAR’s products into the stream of commerce did not create specific jurisdiction because there was no evidence that INSTAR knew or expected that the stream of commerce would take its products into Illinois.

Continue Reading Website Not Sufficient to Create Personal Jurisdiction

Gencor Pacific, Inc. v. Nature’s Thyme, LLC, No. 07 C 167, 2007 WL 1225362 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 24, 2007) (Kocoras, J.).

Judge Kocoras granted defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2)&(3) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and venue and dismissed the case.  Plaintiff brought this Lanham Act false advertising and copyright infringement