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Original Creations, Inc v. Ready America

October 5, 2011

ORIGINAL CREATIONS, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
READY AMERICA, INC., TRADEMARK GLOBAL, AND LIFEᡀ, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Elaine E. Bucklo United States District Judge

Plaintiff Original Creations, Inc. ("OCI") sued Life᧦, Inc.*fn1 ("Life᧦") alleging a claim of patent infringement under Title 35 of the United States Code. Specifically, OCI contends that Life᧦ commits infringement of its patent pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 271(a)-(c). Life᧦ seeks to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction and Fed. R. Civ. P. (12)(b)(3) for improper venue. For the reasons discussed below, Life᧦'s motion to dismiss is denied.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I. Personal Jurisdiction

Federal Circuit law governs the question of whether I can exercise personal jurisdiction over Life᧦ with respect to OCI's patent infringement claim. See Electronics For Imaging, Inc. v. Coyle, 340 F.3d 1344, 1348 (Fed. Cir. 2003); see also TechnoLines, LP v. GST AutoLeather, Inc., - F.Supp.2d -, 2011 WL 2647996, at *2, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71032, at *6 (N.D.Ill. 2011). However, where the Federal Circuit has not addressed a specific issue regarding personal jurisdiction in Illinois, I look to Seventh Circuit law as persuasive authority.

As plaintiff, OCI bears the burden of making a prima facie showing that defendant Life᧦ is subject to personal jurisdiction. Avocent Huntsville Corp. v. Aten Intern. Co., Ltd., 552 F.3d 1324, 1328-29 (Fed. Cir. 2008). Accordingly, I accept uncontroverted allegations in OCI's pleadings as true and resolve factual conflicts in the affidavits or exhibits in OCI's favor. Id. at 1329 (citing Electronics, 340 F.3d at 1349 (internal citations omitted)).

OCI is an Illinois corporation with its principal place of business in Illinois. OCI owns United States Reissued Patent No. RE41,060, entitled "Multi-functional Charger with Power Generating and Illumination Function" (the "'060 Reissued Patent"). Life᧦ is a California business, incorporated in Delaware and with its principal place of business in California.*fn2

According to the affidavit of Life᧦'s CEO, Nicholas Connor, defendant has no offices in Illinois, is not licensed to do business in Illinois, has no employees or agents in Illinois, has no stores in Illinois, and owns no property in Illinois.*fn3

Life᧦ markets and sells a number of products that OCI alleges infringe on its '060 Reissued Patent.

Life᧦ insists that its contacts with Illinois are insufficient for this court to exercise personal jurisdiction. Life᧦ asserts, and OCI agrees, that the "continuous and systematic" contacts required for an exercise of general jurisdiction are lacking in this case. See Silent Drive, Inc. v. Strong Industries, Inc., 326 F.3d 1194, 1200 (Fed. Cir. 2003) (citing Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414-16, 104 S.Ct. 1868, 80 L.Ed.2d 404 (1984)). However, OCI maintains that I can properly assert specific jurisdiction.

This court may exercise personal jurisdiction over Life᧦ if two requirements are satisfied: (1) service of process conforms with Illinois' "long-arm" statute; and, (2) assertion of jurisdiction comports with due process. See Patent Rights Protection Group, LLC v. Video Gaming Technologies, Inc., 603 F.3d 1364, 1368 (citing Red Wing Shoe Co. v. HockersonHalberstadt, Inc., 148 F.3d 1355, 1358 (Fed. Cir. 1998) and Avocent, 552 F.3d at 1329 (citations omitted)); see also NeoMedia Technologies, Inc. v. AirClic, Inc., No. 04 C 566, 2004 WL 848181, at *2, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6634, at *5 (N.D.Ill. 2004).

The Illinois long-arm statute, 735 ILCS 5/2-209(c), authorizes an exercise of personal jurisdiction to the extent consistent with federal due process, and, therefore, the inquiry collapses into one step. See Tamburo v. Dworkin, 601 F.3d 693, 700 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing Citadel Group Ltd. v. Wash. Reg'l Med. Ctr., 536 F.3d 757, 761 (7th Cir. 2008)); see also TechnoLines at *3 (citing North American Philips Corp. v. American Vending Sales, Inc., 35 F.3d 1576, 1580 (Fed. Cir. 1994). The issue becomes, then, whether Life᧦ has "sufficient 'minimum contacts' with Illinois such that the maintenance of the suit 'does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'" Id. (quoting Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945) (internal quotations omitted)); see also Electronics, 340 F.3d at 1350.

The Federal Circuit has held that an assertion of specific jurisdiction in a patent case will comport with due process if "(1) the defendant purposefully directed its activities at residents of the forum, (2) the claim arises out of or relates to those activities, and (3) assertion of personal jurisdiction is reasonable and fair." Avocent, 552 F.3d at 1332 (quoting Breckenridge Pharmaceutical, Inc. v. Metabolite Laboratories, Inc., 444 F.3d 1356, 1363 (Fed. Cir. 2006), internal quotations and citations omitted); see also Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 472-77, 105 S.Ct. 2174, 85 L.Ed.2d 528 (1985) (describing the factors listed in Avocent and Breckenridge, supra). The first two requirements both touch upon the issue of "minimum contacts," and I will look at these prongs of the Federal Circuit's test first.

In a patent infringement case, the requirement that the claim "arise out of" or "relate to" a defendant's activities is satisfied where the plaintiff asserts a claim that the defendant makes, uses, sells, offers to sell, or imports allegedly infringing products in the forum. Avocent, 552 F.3d at 1332. "In such litigation, the claim both 'arises out of' and 'relates to' the defendant's alleged manufacturing, using, or selling of the claimed invention." Id. Because OCI alleges that Life᧦ sells and offers to sell allegedly infringing products in Illinois, my inquiry is essentially limited to whether or not Life᧦ "purposefully directed its activities at residents" of Illinois. Id.

OCI contends that Life᧦ has had various contacts with Illinois, such that exercising specific personal jurisdiction over defendant would be ...


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