Poulsen Roser A/S v. Jackson & Perkins Wholesale, Inc., No. 10 C 1894, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Nov. 15, 2010) (St. Eve, J.).
Judge St. Eve denied plaintiff Pousen Rosen’s (“Poulsen”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) and 60(b) motion for reconsideration of the Court’s decision dismissing the case as to the individual defendants for lack of personal jurisdiction in this Lanham Act case.
First, “new evidence” in the form of the District of South Carolina Bankruptcy Court’s order consolidating the corporate defendants was irrelevant and did not alter the Court’s analysis. The Bankruptcy Court made no finding regarding the relationship between the corporate and individual defendants.
Second, the Court reconsidered and upheld its analysis regarding the corporate defendants’ internet contacts. The Seventh Circuit rejected the Zippo case’s sliding scale for internet-based jurisdiction because of the possibility of creating universal jurisdiction:
We note the legitimate concern that “[p]remising personal jurisdiction on the maintenance of a website, without requiring some level of “interactivity” between the defendant and consumers in the forum state, would create almost universal jurisdiction because of the virtually unlimited accessibility of websites across the country.” Jennings, 383 F.3d at 550. Courts should be careful in resolving questions about personal jurisdiction involving on-line contacts to ensure that a defendant is not haled into court simply because the defendant owns or operates a website that is accessible in the forum state, even if that site is “interactive.”
Illinois v. Hemi Group LLC, __ F.3d __, 2010 WL 3547647, at *6 (7th Cir. 2010).

Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Rejects Zippo Sliding Scale for Personal Jurisdiction

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.

Continue Reading Interactive Websites Can Only Create Specific Jurisdiction Without More

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 viagogo.com 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

Tamburo v. Dworkin, No. 04 C 3317, 2007 WL 3046216 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 9, 2007) (Gottschall, J.).
Judge Gottschall granted defendants’ motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Plaintiffs sell a dog breeding and pedigree software program and sought, among other things, a declaratory judgment that certain allegedly factual information (date of birth, gender, parent’s names, titles, color, medical information, etc.) included in its pedigree database was not copyrightable and, therefore, could not be infringed by plaintiffs. Defendants either offer allegedly competing software or are dog breeders who use such software. The Court held that it lacked general or specific jurisdiction over each of the defendants. There was no general jurisdiction because plaintiffs identified, at most, minimal interactions with and sales to Illinois residents. And defendants various websites were not sufficiently targeted to Illinois to alone create general jurisdiction. The Court similarly found that it lacked specific jurisdiction. Of particular interest, the Court held that defendants’ posts to internet chat groups and message boards could not create specific jurisdictions. The posts allegedly accused plaintiffs of theft and trafficking in stolen goods, among other things. The Court held that, while the Seventh Circuit had not addressed the issue or expressly adopted the Zippo sliding scale analysis, posts to internet chat rooms and message boards would fall below passive websites, which make up the bottom of the Zippo scale. Defendants are not alleged to own the chat rooms or to use them to transact or target business within Illinois. The Court reasoned that a holding that specific jurisdiction was created by postings to chat rooms would make jurisdiction boundless because the chat rooms have no geographic restrictions.

Continue Reading Postings on Chat Rooms and Discussion Groups Do Not Create Jurisdiction

Chicago Architecture Foundation v. Domain Magic LLC, No. 07 C 764, Slip Op. (N.D.Ill. October 12, 2007) (Norgle, J.).
Judge Norgle denied defendant’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Although defendant was a Florida corporation, defendant’s website – www.chicagoarchitecturefoundation.com – played upon plaintiff Chicago Architecture Foundation’s (“CAF”) name and only included links to other Chicago businesses. The Court, therefore, held that defendant’s website targeted the Northern District creating general personal jurisdiction.
Additionally, as a Fed. R. Civ. P. 37 sanction for failing to answer interrogatory responses as the Court ordered, the Court held that defendant generated revenue from the use of CAF’s trademark.
Practice tip: Answer discovery requests on time and, if you cannot for some reason, at least answer them by the Court ordered deadline.

Continue Reading Chicago Focused Website Creates Personal Jurisdiction