1 University of Houston Law Center Digital Transactions Week 1 Internet Jurisdiction Copyright, 2006, Ronald L. Chichester, All Rights Reserved
2 Internet Jurisdiction In General Old Cases Still Apply Due Process under the Fourteenth Amendment Burger King; International Shoe; Calder v. Jones. Minimum Contacts Due process requires only that in order to subject defendant to a judgment in personam, if he be not present in the territory of the forum, he have certain minimum contacts... International Shoe.
3 Internet Jurisdiction In General Old Cases Still Apply Purposeful Availment The placement of a product into the stream of commerce, without more, is not an act of the defendant purposefully directed toward the forum state. Asahi.
4 Types of Jurisdiction Personal (in personam) Jurisdiction Specific Jurisdiction General Jurisdiction In rem Jurisdiction Anti Cybersquatting Protection Act ( ACPA ) for civil cases. Criminal acts (where the harm was caused within the forum state) can give rise to in rem jurisdiction.
5 Asserting Jurisdiction Purposeful Availment (in personam) Web Pages (in some cases) Electronic Transactions Tortious Conduct Presence (in rem) Anti Cybersquatting Protection Act Criminal Acts Contractual Forum Selection and Choice of Law
6 Personal Jurisdiction Personal (in personam) Jurisdiction General Jurisdiction Available when online defendant engaged in "systematic and continuous" activities in the forum state. Permits jurisdiction when conduct of defendant was not coupled to the corpus of the suit. Specific Jurisdiction an online defendant availed himself of the privileges of doing business in the forum state; the claim arose out of forum related activities; and the exercise of personal jurisdiction is reasonable.
7 Purposeful Availment can be found through: Web pages or the hosting of web pages in forum state Electronic Transactions Tortious Conduct Defamation Copyright Infringement Trademark Infringement Unfair Competition Breach of Contract Misappropriation of Trade Secrets Patent Infringement (potentially)
8 Web Pages Cases mixed Two forms of analysis in use by the courts Zippo sliding scale analysis Contacts and Connector analysis Either or both types of analysis may be used by the courts, but look for the Contacts and Connector analysis as the current trend. Most courts require something more than an Internet presence. See, GTE New Media Services Inc. v. Ameritech Corp., 199 F.3d 1343 (DC Cir. 2000) Use of interactive website by DC residents was unilateral acts by residents.
9 Zippo Sliding Scale Analysis Zippo Mfg. Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, Inc., 952 F. Supp (W.D. Pa. 1997). General theory centers around notions of interactivity. The more interactive a website is with users within the forum state, the easier it is to assert jurisdiction. What the threshold level of interactivity needed to assert jurisdiction varies, depending on the facts of a particular case. Quality of the activities. Subjective interpretations of the quality of the activities has led to inconsistent decisions.
10 Zippo Sliding Scale Analysis (continued) Passive site, no interactivity permitted. Jurisdiction almost never asserted. Semi active websites, such as those where interactivity is limited to exchanging information (but not goods or services) are in the gray area. Active websites that offer goods and/or services online and allow users to transact business without restriction to location are almost always subject to jurisdiction in other states.
11 Zippo Sliding Scale Analysis (continued) The key is implied consent of the defendant. Courts examine the qualities of the activity to determine whether the defendant has impliedly consented to the jurisdiction of the foreign forum. Additional non Internet commercial contacts with the forum state are very important and may well tip the balance against the defendant. In general, the courts will find implied consent if the exchange is commercial and more than minimal.
12 Example Zippo cases Cybersell, Inc. v. Cybersell, Inc., 130 F.3d 414 (9 th Cir. 1997). Arizona plaintiff sued the Florida defendant for trademark infringement for offering web page construction services over the Internet. The plaintiff alleged that personal jurisdiction should lie because the defendant's web page was viewable on a worldwide basis. The Ninth Circuit concluded that the defendant's website was essentially passive and that the Florida defendant had conducted no business in Arizona. Mink v. AAAA Devel. LLC, 1909 F.3d 333 (5 th Cir. 1999). Printable mail in form, a toll free call in number and a posted address were not enough to impose specific jursidiction in Texas over a Vermont website operator.
13 Contacts and Connector Analysis Developed after criticism of post Zippo decisions that required subjective evaluation. This form of analysis is rooted in the effects test from Calder v. Jones, 465 US 783 (1984). More often applied in cases involving defamation and intentional torts (such as trademark infringement). Gets around the Zippo problem that one side of the interaction is typically a robot.
14 Web Pages Cases Against Finding Jurisdiction Med Tec Iowa, Inc. v. Computerized Imaging Reference Systems, Inc., 223 F. Supp (SD Iowa, 2002). Website that contained information about products, but did not permit online placement of orders or other "exchange" of information" lacks sufficient contacts with Iowa to warrant federal court's exercise of jurisdiction in patent infringement case. Snyder v. Dolphin Encounters Ltd., (E.D. Pa, 2002). Tour operator's interactive web site did not target forum (even though customers could order souvenirs or book reservations), thus didn't support general jurisdiction. Cybersell, Inc. v. Cybersell, Inc., 130 F.3d 414 (9 th Cir., 1997).
15 Web Pages Cases Finding Jurisdiction MGM Studios v. Grokster, Ltd., 243 F. Supp. 2d 1073 (DC CCalif., 2003). Distribution of software via a web home page allows finding of jurisdiction in California. Mariz v. CyberGold, 947 F.Supp (E.D. Mo., 1996). Interactive website containing domain name that allegedly infringed plaintiff's trademark was sufficient for finding of jurisdiction.
16 Electronic Transactions Compuserve, Inc. v. Paterson, 89 F.3d 1257 (6 th Cir. 1996). Compuserve DJ'ed a Houston attorney that alleged trademark infringement. The Sixth Circuit concluded that when a defendant subscribed to CompuServe, loaded his software onto its system for others to use, and advertised his software on the system, the defendant had taken direct actions to create a connection with the forum state. Origins Natural Resources, Inc. v. Kotler, 133 F. Supp. 2d 1232 (D.N.M. 2001). Merely advertising from another forum [via the Internet] into New Mexico has not been considered constitutionally sufficient.
18 Tortious Conduct Defamation Bochan v. La Fontaine, 68 F.Supp. 2d 692 (E.D. Va. 1999) Libelous postings made to newsgroup hosted in Virginia sufficient for personal jurisdiction in that state. Oasis Corp. v. Judd, 132 F.Supp. 2d 612 (S.D. Ohio 2001) Ohio district court finds no personal jurisdiction in gripesite because alleged wrongs are only on non commercial website and defendants have no inherent connection to Ohio. Dow Jones & Co. v. Gutnick, Austl., 2002 H.C.A. 56 (2002). Australian high court asserts jurisdiction over U.S. based web publisher, rejects single publication rule for Internet defamation.
19 Tortious Conduct Copyright Infringement MGM Studios v. Grokster, Ltd. (DC CCalif, 1/9/2003). Defendant (a foreign corporation) was found to have purposefully availed itself of privilege of doing business in California by distributing software via the Internet that facilitated infringement of plaintiff's copyrights. The court noted that approximately two million of the software downloaders were California residents, and that the distribution of the software, although free, was essentially a commercial act that (through advertising) generated income for the defendant.
20 Tortious Conduct Trademark Infringement Carefirst of Maryland, Inc. v. Carefirst Pregnancy Centers, Inc. (4 th Cir. No , July 2, 2003). Plaintiff gave defendant notice of plaintiff's federal trademark registration and common law rights in the mark CAREFIRST. Maryland plaintiff sued Illinois defendant in Maryland for trademark infringement and dilution. The district court dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction over defendant was affirmed by the Fourth Circuit. Court noted that only connection to forum was website on the Internet and Maryland web host provider both insufficient to establish jurisdiction Merely placing information on the Internet is not sufficient absent manifest intent of targeting forum state.
21 Tortious Conduct False Advertisement Minnisota v. Granite Gate Resorts, 568 N.W.2d 715 (Ct. App., Minn., 1997). Nevada provider of Internet gambling service was subject to personal jurisdiction in Minnesota in an action for false advertising and consumer fraud. Court found that defendant availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities within every state from which [the Internet] information may be accessed and that allowed the Minnesota long arm statute to apply. The court based its decision on the number of "hits" that the website received, the number of different locations within the forum states that accessed the website, and the fact that the website's mailing list included residents of the forum state.
22 Tortious Conduct Trade Secret Misappropriation DVD Copy Control Association v. Pavlovich (29 Cal. 4 Th ). California courts could not exercise personal jurisdiction over a Texas resident for alleged trade secrets misappropriation where the only contact with the state was the maintenance of a website over the Internet. Justice Brown, writing for the 4 3 majority found that mere allegations that the defendant should have known that his conduct may cause harm, standing alone, were not enough for a court in California to exercise personal jurisdiction over an out of state resident.
23 Tortious Conduct Unfair Competition Graphic Controls Corp. v. Utah Medical Products, Inc., 149 F.3d 1382 (Fed. Cir. 1998). Utah Medical sent letters to hospitals in New York alleging Graphic Controls infringed a patent. Graphic Controls DJ'ed for unfair competition and invalidity/non infringement in New York. Defendant's tollfree number and website were not enough to establish jurisdiction. The letters sent by Utah Medical were of insufficient quality and degree to be considered the 'transaction of business' under New York law.
24 Tortious Conduct Breach of Contract Pres Kap, Inc. v. System One, 636 So.2d 1351 (Fla. App. 1994). Florida lacked personal jurisdiction over nonresident defendant corporation. New York travel agency used Florida plaintiff's online airline reservation system. Plaintiff had a New York office, solicited defendant in New York, negotiated the contract in New York, and delivered the equipment in New York. Only Florida contact was use of the airline reservation database. The court said that sending payments to Florida, and use of the database located in Florida cannot convert this obviously New York based transaction into a Florida transaction so that the defendant could reasonably expect to be sued in Florida in the event the transaction soured.
25 Tortious Conduct Patent Infringement Interactive Gift Express Inc. v. CompuServe Inc., 47 U.S.P.Q.2d 1797 (S.D.N.Y. 1998). Plaintiff claimed that CompuServe was a contributory and inducing infringer by distributing software over the Internet. E Data Corp. v. Micropatent Corp., 989 F.Supp. 173 (D.Conn. 1997). Plaintiff claimed that defendant infringed by offering photographic images to customers via the Internet. The court held that the defendant's website alone was insufficient for jurisdiction. Agar Corp. v. MultiFluid Inc., 45 U.S.P.Q.2d 1444 (S.D. Tex. 1997). Norwegian defendant not subject to jurisdiction in Texas based on its marketing of infringing technology via the Internet. Passive website not directed to Texas.
26 In general... courts will focus on the effects and local impact that a website has on a particular jurisdiction.... which means that... When an online activity has a significant impact within a locality, courts will assert jurisdiction. Note A showing of minimum contacts is not generally a problem. Courts tend to subsume the minimum contacts requirement within the purposeful availment test.
27 Tips Where the web page is located/hosted is generally (but not always) irrelevant. Focus on the effects within the forum. Try not to rely on Internet related elements for implied consent, judges are more comfortable with cases having traditional fact patterns.
28 Presence In rem Jurisdiction Anti Cybersqatter Protection Act Criminal Acts
29 Presence ACPA In rem jurisdiction is expressly allowed under the Anti Cybersquatting Protection Act ("ACPA"). 15 U.S.C. 1125(d) protects against bad faith intent to profit from registration of domain name. Act does not require plaintiff to show that the offending domain name is being used in commerce or that the use causes confusion among customers. Act requires the plaintiff to show that the allegedly infringing domain name was registered with the bad faith intent to profit from the plaintiff's trademark.
30 Presence ACPA Procedure under 15 U.S.C. 1125(d)(2)(A) The plaintiff must follow the prescribed procedures for filing an in rem action, namely: Plaintiff must file an (in personam) action against a company or person; Plaintiff must have attempted personal jurisdiction or have served by publication if personal service is impractical; and Obtain court permission to file in rem action (and must prove that offending domain name violates trademark rights prior to filing an in rem action). Can bring action district of domain name registrar.
31 Presence ACPA Early district courts decisions narrowly interpreted 15 USC 1125(d)(2). Fourth Circuit has interpreted 1125(d)(2) more broadly.
32 Presence ACPA Precedent Harrods Ltd. v. Sixty Internet Domain Names, 302 F.3d 214 (4 th Cir. 2002). Presence of the domain name registrar within the judicial district where the case is brought is, in itself, sufficient minimum contact to satisfy Constitutional due process concerns. No other personal contact between the domain name registrant and the forum district is necessary. In rem provisions have broadest possible reach, and enable a trademark owner to obtain jurisdiction for any right of a trademark owner that is violated by the domain registrant.
33 Presence Criminal Acts Criminal Acts United States v. Thomas, 74 F.3d701 (6 th Cir. 1996). Adult bulletin board operators charged with allowing obscene material to be transmitted over the Internet. Defendants were extradited to Tennessee and charged under 18 U.S.C Court found that binary signals to were sufficient to invoke statue even if the pictures were unviewable during transmission.
34 Presence Criminal Acts Criminal Acts United States v. Kammersel, 196 F.3d 1137 (10 th Cir. 1999). Defendant sent a bogus bomb threat to his girlfriend via AOL instant messenger so that she would get off work early. The signal went from Utah to AOL's server in Virginia back to Utah, thus invoking the interstate communication needed for jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. 875(c).
35 Contractual Forum Selection Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. v. Shute, 499 U.S. 585 (1991) Forum selection clause upheld because there was no evidence that clause was designed to discourage pursuit of claims. Caspi v. The Microsoft Network, L.L.C., 323 N.J. Super. 118 (App. Div. 1999) Forum selection clause in an online subscriber agreement to MSN service deemed enforceable, even though the clause had no bold or uppercase font. Groff v. AOL, 1998 WL (R.I. Super. Ct. 1998) Forum selection clause unreasonable. Dismissed for improper venue. Beware of shrinkwrap/clickwrap/browsewrap issues. Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA).
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