Term Paper: Internet Personal Jurisdiction Normally

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[. . .] (Bender, 1997).

The most important United States Supreme Court case arguing the course of business theory of personal jurisdiction is Asahi Metal Industry Co.v.480. U.S.102 (1987). The Supreme Court was estranged over whether the position of a product in the course of business is enough to grant personal jurisdiction. The plurality led by Justice O'Connor, gave a more limiting outlook of jurisdiction, holding that the positioning of a product in to the course of business without more, is not an act of defendant persistently aimed at the forum state Id. At 112 (emphasis added). The court also stated that a defendants knowledge that the course of business may and will sweep the product in to the forum state does not alter the sheer act of positioning the product in to the business, is not an act persistently aimed towards the forum state Id.

The courts making use of these principles in Internet jurisdiction cases have caught upon the idiom, without much to need, something more than the mere making of an Internet website to ascertain personal jurisdiction. Cyber sell. Inc.v.Cybersell.Inc.130F.3d 414(9th cir.1997) provides instances of having a toll-free phone number, agreeing in to a deal with the forum and seeking products in the forum. The solution to the jurisdiction is the aim of the defendants and not the behavior of the internet users, as per the most recent laws which even goes further as to necessitate some sort of planned action on the part of the defendant aimed at the forum state in order to ascertain jurisdiction. (Ballon, 2000)

The course of business does not refer to the random waves or eddies, but to the usual and probable flow of products from production to delivery and to retail sale. This was given by Justice Brennas who was contending the study in Asahi Metal Industry and who was more logical and influential. The risks of a court case cannot be a blow to a person as long as he is familiar that the final product is marketed in the forum state 480 U.S. At 117. The previous Internet jurisdiction cases used this type of logic, holding that anyone who places a website should expect to be haled into the court in any forum, where that website can be contacted effectively any where in the world. See example Inset systems v. Instruction set, infra. The effects doctrine is usually practiced in tort actions and aims on the level to which the defendants act is meant or has effect in the forum state. It permits the petitioner to show persistent availment by confirming the defendant aimed deliberate actions at the forum state that cause damage, the impact of which is undergone by the forum state.

Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783 (1994) is the famous U.S. Supreme Court case in this field. A case in a California court about a magazine reporter and editor (who were residents of Florida) was an evidently offensive article they had written about a resident of California, in the national periodical, but there the court found that the jurisdiction was well defended. The court stressed that the defendants were charged with deliberate acts specifically aimed at California Id.at 789-90, because the defendants knew that California would be the central point of the story, the defendant's deliberate acts will lead to destruction and this jurisdiction was correct. (Betensky, 1998)

Regarding Internet jurisdiction there are only very few opinions that has been given by the federal court of appeals. There is an important case of Panavision International, L.P. v. Toeppen, 141 F. 3d 1316 (9th Cir. 1998). This is a leading decision on Internet jurisdiction using the effects doctrine. There was a person, nonresident in the U.S. who had registered Panavision's established trademeark as the domain name for his web site. He then tried to sell the rights to the domain name to the company, Panavision. The Ninth Circuit decided that it had jurisdiction over this person. The person concerned argued that the forum state and he had no contacts, nor was any of his activities directed to the forum state. The Ninth Circuit disagreed with his arguments on the basis of the effects test. It found that the person had planned to register the trademark of Panavision as his own domain name with the specific objective of extorting money out of Panavision. The company, Panavision had the principal place of business in California. The person's action would be injuring the company in its business. Id.at 1322. After this case was decided, this principle of effects doctrine has been used as the basis in Internet cases for jurisdiction purposes. On the side of the courts, they have generally tried to restrict this doctrine only to cases where there is proof of intentional tort. This is seen in the cases of Bancroft & Masters, Inc. v. Augusta National, Inc., 45 F.Supp.2d 777, 782 (N.D.Cal 1998) and Cybersell, Inc. v. Cybersell, Inc.,supra. In both these cases the courts did not accept the application of the doctrine, as the claims were for trademark infringement. (American Bar Association, 2000)

The dispute over personal jurisdiction and the World Wide Web was first discussed and decided in the case of Inset Systems, Inc. v. Instruction Set, Inc., 937 F.Supp. 161 (D.Conn. 1996). This case was also probably the most jurisdictionally expansive case on the subject. It is said that this case has fixed the outer limits on the issue of personal jurisdiction regarding the internet. Another case was Zippo Manufacturing Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, Inc., 952 F.Supp. 1119, 1125 (W.D.Pa. 1997). In the case of InsetSystems, the company of the same name was a Connecticut corporation for developing and marketing of consumer software and connected services throughout the world. It registered the federal trademark of "Inset" in 1986. In 1995, it tried to obtain the registration of Inset as a domain name. It then found that this name had been registered by Instruction Set, Inc. The second company was a Massachusetts corporation which was providing computer technology and other services worldwide. The second company had already obtained the domain name. Inset Systems, 937 F.Supp. At 165.

On this basis, the first company sued the second company for trademark infringement in Connecticut federal court. The second company had no employees in that place, or offices, or even conducted business regularly there. For the federal court to establish jurisdiction on the matter, the first company sited the second companies Internet Web site. This had advertising and a toll free telephone number. The first company argued that the Web site was providing enough contacts for the federal court to satisfy itself regarding due process. The court accepted the argument. The second company was concentrating on its advertising through the Internet. The telephone number was not for any particular state, but for all states within the country. Both these methods were for communications with the concerned people and their businesses in all states. It was said that as high as 10,000 users within Connecticut alone could be reached by Internet. It was also a very effective medium as it continues to be available continuously on the Internet, once posted, unlike the advertising on TV or radio. (Cendali and Weinstein, 1998)

Though the second company had not specifically targeted its Web site to the forum state, the court opined that it had wontedly availed itself of the advantage of getting business within Connecticut by using its Web site. This decision of the court has not been accepted by many other courts and legal commentators. There was a recent opinion that the court had not found enough facts to justify that the second company had wontedly availed facilities in Connecticut in any way different from any other area of the country. If the logic of the case was to be followed, then any company which posted information on the Web would become subject to nationwide jurisdiction. This is felt to be a very expansive approach to personal jurisdiction, and may be in excess of the constitution. This was seen in Rannoch, Inc. v. Rannoch Corp., 52 F. Supp.2d 681 (E.D.Va. 1999). Here it was felt that creating a Web site, or launching a new product into the market, even this activity may be nationwide or even worldwide, should not be viewed as a specific activity to the specific state. It has also been felt that this case would subject anybody posting information on the World Wide Web to countrywide jurisdiction. Barrett v. Catacombs Press, 44 F.Supp.2d 717, 727 (E.D.Pa. 1999)

Some cases have followed the logic of this case. One of these cases is Telco Communications v. An Apple A Day, 977 F.Supp. 404 (E.D.Va. 1997). This was decided by a court in Virginia which found the personal jurisdiction to be correct for defamation and torturous interference action. In this case,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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