Sunday, July 10, 2016

Internet Means the Death of Borders :: Elvis is Everywhere :: #Nope

In the era of exceptionalism, the Internet was proclaimed as the death of borders.  Kinda like Elvis, the Internet was everywhere all the time.  Plaintiffs' lawyers heard that - and figured that meant any court had jurisdiction over any website ~ because that website was virtually in that jurisdiction.

The courts found the borders; they did not have jurisdiction over any website.

Okay, the facts on this one are straight forward.  Let's got to the video tape: Plaintiffs sell clothes.  Plaintiffs claims that Defendants (all 3343 of them), who are like in China, "sell counterfeit products that violate Plaintiffs' intellectual property rights . . . to consumers within the United States."  Plaintiffs sued in Illinois.

Jumping over a lot in the court's decision to get to the interesting stuff, there was just not a lot alleged that connected defendants to Illinois other than that they had websites.

So, over an individual defendant,  as a rule, a court has your general jurisdiction and your specific jurisdiction.  

As for general jurisdiction, the court sez:
[T]he exercise of personal jurisdiction here is based exclusively upon Defendants' alleged maintenance of interactive websites. Without more (and there is not more here), this fact alone is not enough to support general personal jurisdiction.  See, e.g., Richter v. INSTAR Enterprises Int'l, Inc., 594 F. Supp. 2d 1000, 1009 (N.D. Ill. 2009) ("[R]egardless how interactive a website is, it cannot form the basis for [general] personal jurisdiction . . . unless the contacts through the website are so substantial that they may be considered `systematic and continuous' for the purpose of general jurisdiction."); Euromarket Designs, Inc. v. Crate & Barrel Ltd., 96 F. Supp. 2d 824, 833 (N.D. Ill. 2000) ("Generally, the defendant's mere maintenance of an Internet website is not sufficient activity to exercise general jurisdiction over the defendant.").
As for specific jurisdiction, this means that the defendant had specific transactions and presence within the jurisdiction.  Plaintiffs said that each of the defendants transacted business in Illinois.  A few of the defendants surfaced and said... "um, no we didnt (and by the way, we are Irish not Chinese)."  The court said
jurisdictional allegations are accepted as true, but if a defendant submits evidence in opposition to the exercise of jurisdiction, plaintiff must go beyond the pleadings and submit affirmative evidence to support it) (citing Purdue Research Foundation v. Sonofi-Synthelabo, S.A., 338 F.3d 773, 782-83 (7th Cir. 2003)). Plaintiffs did not provide such evidence
Then plaintiffs' counsel flops back and argued "that he believed personal jurisdiction was proper as to all 3,343 defendants solely because they operated interactive websites that displayed copyrighted images and infringed Plaintiffs' trademarks."

To quote the court, "yeah.... no." Following plaintiffs logic, the court said, "personal jurisdiction would automatically exist in every state and presumably every country."  The court cited two cases where the court indeed found jurisdictions over websites, but the finding of specific jurisdiction was premised on evidence that defendants had in fact transacted business in Illinois. Monster Energy, 136 F.Supp. 3d at 902. State of Illinois v. Hemi Group LLC, 622 F.3d 754 (7th Cir. 2010). "In this case, however, Plaintiffs have not made such a showing. They provided no facts to show that any of the defendants named in the complaint aimed any action at Illinois."

The Internet is not borderless; Elvis is not everywhere.

American Bridal & Prom Industry v a bunch of defendants, NDILL June 29, 2016
Post a Comment