Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Gencor Pacific, Inc. v. Nature's Thyme

April 24, 2007

GENCOR PACIFIC, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
NATURE'S THYME, LLC, AND GORDON GIBBS, AND ADAM GIBBS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter comes before the court on the motions of Defendants Nature's Thyme LLC, Gordon Gibbs, and Adam Gibbs to dismiss the complaint of Plaintiff Gencor Pacific, Inc. ("Gencor") pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) and (3). For the reasons set forth below, the motions to dismiss are granted.*fn1

BACKGROUND

According to the complaint, Gencor is a Texas corporation with its principal place of business in Austin, Texas. Gencor manufactures an appetite suppressant and weight-loss promoter containing a Caralluma Fimbriata extract. To substantiate its claims of the product's efficacy, Gencor conducted clinical and laboratory trials, the findings of which were detailed in various studies and reports. It owns the copyrights, and all other rights, in these documents and uses them to market its Caralluma extract.

Nature's Thyme is a New Jersey corporation with its principal place of business in Cedar Knolls, New Jersey. Defendant Gordon Gibbs is its Chief Executive Officer; Defendant Adam Gibbs, its Vice President in Charge of Operations. Nature's Thyme sells a powdered product that contains Caralluma Fimbriata. Gencor alleges that Nature's Thyme used portions of its studies to support Nature's Thyme's claims about the composition and efficacy of its Caralluma product without Gencor's consent. The allegedly infringing and misleading documents were contained in marketing materials on a computer disk Nature's Thyme supplied to consumers.

On January 10, 2007, Gencor filed a five-count complaint in this court. Count I alleges that Nature's Thyme's use of the study contents in its marketing materials constituted false advertising under the Lanham Act (15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)). Count II alleges common law unfair competition against all Defendants. Count III contends that Nature's Thyme was unjustly enriched by their use of Gencor's materials. Counts IV and V allege federal and common law copyright infringement, respectively.

Nature's Thyme and the Gibbses now move to dismiss Gencor's complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue. Because of the nature of Gencor's challenge, we may look beyond the allegations of the complaint and consider properly supported factual assertions made by both parties. RAR, Inc. v. Turner Diesel, Ltd., 107 F.3d 1272, 1275 (7th Cir. 1997). Any factual disputes must be resolved in favor of Gencor, but unrefuted assertions from Nature's Thyme will be considered to be true. Id.

I. Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

A. Legal Standard

On a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of making a prima facie showing that jurisdiction over the defendant is proper. RAR, 107 F.3d at 1276. In a federal question case, a personal jurisdiction inquiry has two components: first, an examination of whether a defendant are amenable to service of process; and second, whether an exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction would comport with the defendant's due process rights. Swaim v. Moltan Co., 73 F.3d 711, 719-20 (7th Cir. 1996).

The first component, amenability to service, is determined in federal cases according to Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(k)(1). Inter alia, the rule provides that defendants are amenable to service in a federal case if they would be subject to the jurisdiction of a state court in the state in which the district court sits or if the suit is brought under a statute that explicitly provides for nationwide service. Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(k)(1)(A), (D).

With regard to the second component, the exercise of jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant comports with federal due process if the defendant has "purposefully established minimum contacts within the forum State." Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 476 (1985). Once the level of contact with a forum state reaches a certain point, a party should understand that the trade-off for the privilege of conducting its activities is that it can be haled into that state's courts to answer for its actions. Id. at 474, 475. The level of contact necessary will depend on several factors. One consideration is whether the plaintiff asserts that the court has specific personal jurisdiction, meaning that the cause of action arises from the activities within the forum state, or general personal jurisdiction, meaning that the cause of action is unrelated to the defendant's activities in the forum state. In addition, factors other than the burden on the defending party can come into play, such as the interest of the forum state in adjudicating the dispute in its courts, allowing the plaintiff to obtain convenient and effective relief, and the interest of the interstate judicial system in efficient resolution of controversies that can be addressed in multiple fora. See World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 292 (1980). No matter how these factors combine, however, due process mandates that maintenance of the suit in the forum is consistent with "traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945).

B. Discussion

Our first area of attention in assessing the 12(b)(2) motion must focus on whether Nature's Thyme and the Gibbses are amenable to service of process. Gencor has invoked two federal statutes, the Copyright Act and the Lanham Act; neither provides for nationwide service of process. Therefore, Nature's Thyme and the Gibbses are amenable to service only if they would be subject to ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.