LEGO A/S et al. v. OYO Toys, Inc. et al. (D. Ct/D. Mass. 19-01610).

Connecticut Federal Judge Bolden granted OYO Toys’ motion to transfer venue to Massachusetts.  LEGO sued OYO in Connecticut Federal Court, accusing it of copyright and trademark infringement, false designation of origin and violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act in connection with LEGO’s Minifigure characters.  OYO moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction or in the alternative to transfer.  Connecticut has a statute under which foreign corporations that do business in the state (which OYO does) without first obtaining a certificate of authenticity (which OYO lacks) “shall be subject to suit in this state by a resident of this state…”  The Court found that this did not apply, however, because neither of plaintiffs LEGO A/S or LEGO Juris A/S. private companies located in Denmark, are “residents” of Connecticut who could take advantage of the statute, and the two cannot “bootstrap” themselves into being able to invoke the statute by way of the residency of third plaintiff LEGO Systems, Inc.’s Connecticut place of business.  The Court further determined that OYO is not “conducting business” in Connecticut merely by selling figurines to national distributors who then bring them into Connecticut.  Similarly, OYO’s sales of figurines through its website falls below the “conducting business” standard of the statute because the sales were a very minor part of OYO’s overall sales and were not targeted specifically to Connecticut.  Rather than definitively find that Connecticut lacks personal jurisdiction over OYO, however, the Court instead opted to transfer the case to OYO’s home state of Massachusetts, and both personal jurisdiction and venue were certain to exist.  While the Plaintiffs’ choice of forum is normally granted considerable weight, where the claims are nationwide, and the owners of the copyrights and trademarks at issue are non-residents of the chosen forum, that weight is not controlling.  LEGO identified no Connecticut-based witnesses, while OYO identified both party and non-party witnesses located in Massachusetts, leading to the transfer.

Solta Medical, Inc. v. Lumenis, Inc. et al. (19-cv-11600).

Solta sued Lumenis, Inc. and its Israeli-based corporate parent Lumenis Ltd. In 2019, accusing them of infringing two patents related to improvements in controlled cooling of skin and other tissue being treated by lasers.  Lumenis Ltd. Moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, asserting that the U.S. entity was responsible for all efforts to market and sell the accused products in the United States (and in Massachusetts).  Judge Casper applied the prima facie standard and taking all factual allegations in the complaint and uncontroverted factual allegations made by the defendant as true, as is required where the motion is decided without an evidentiary hearing.  She noted that Lumenis Ltd. Manufactures the accused products in Israel and then sells the products through wholly-owned subsidiaries in the United States and other countries.  Lumenis, Inc., one such wholly-owned subsidiary, has sold accused products and directed marketing activity into Massachusetts.  The accused products were identified as Lumenis Ltd. Products in an SEC filing, and Lumenis Ltd. Is the entity that applied for FDA approval to market and sell in the United States.  While noting that ownership of a Massachusetts subsidiary is not, standing alone, sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction, here the two Lumenis entities are both transacting business for the purposes of satisfying the long-arm statute of the Commonwealth.  Lumenis Ltd’s’ SEC filing indicated that it provides training and certification of field service engineers for the accused products and operates communications centers for each regional sales and marketing areas.  This collaboration with Lumenis, Inc. is sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction over Lumenis Ltd. For complaints associated with the sales of these products.

Nuance Communications, Inc. v. Omilia Natural Language Solutions, Ltd. (19-cv-11438).

Judge Saris denied Omilia’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Omilia, a Cyprus corporation, sought either dismissal or transfer to the Northern District of Illinois, where it concedes it has sufficient contacts to support personal jurisdiction. Looking into Omilia’s contacts with Massachusetts, Judge Saris determined that Omlilia had the necessary contacts to support personal jurisdiction. She noted that Omilia had identified Boston as its “North American Office” on its website and provided Boston contact information from 2015 to the time it received Nuance’s cease and desist letter in October 2018. Judge Saris further did not credit Omilia’s attempts to identify its Boston contact person as an independent contractor, because Omilia’s website had indicated that he was the company’s “employee number 6” in 2012. She further noted the LinkedIn profile of Omilia’s CEO, which indicated that he worked for Omilia in Boston. Finally Judge Saris pointed to Omilia’s having a physical address in Boston (a WeWork location which served primarily as a mailing address) and Omilia’s presentation at a conference in the state. She found each of these supported purposeful availment. She then looked to the relatedness of these contacts with the asserted patent infringement. Noting that Federal Circuit law on this subject was more permissive towards finding relatedness than many of the other Federal Circuit’s law, she determined that Omilia’s attempts to market and sell accused products to customers in Massachusetts (which occurred at least in part through these contacts) was enough. Finally, Judge Saris determined that hailing Omilia into a Massachusetts court was not unreasonable, because Massachusetts has a strong interest in protecting Nuance, a Massachusetts company, from infringement, that Omilia had not overcome. As a result, this case will proceed in Massachusetts.

Global Protection Corp. et al. v. Arthur et al. (18-cv-10966).

Global accused Eric Arthur and Marketing Sales Concepts of infringing its “ONE” mark and a design patent for condom packaging, and the Defendants moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue, contending that they do no business in Massachusetts and never marketed or sold the accused condoms in the Commonwealth. Global responded that the defendants’ websites and social media presence, accessible in Massachusetts, supported jurisdiction and that the patent claim could be brought in Massachusetts under the “pendent venue” doctrine. Judge Stearns found that under TC Heartland, pendant venue cannot be applied to patent infringement claims (but note that at least one other Court has found that pendent venue is applicable to patent infringement claims); he decided, however, to transfer the entire matter to the Western District of Arkansas rather than to dismiss the complaint outright.

CR Associates, L.P. v. Selfstorage.com, LLC et al. (17-cv-10551).

CR Associates sued Selfstorage and Sparefoot, Inc. (and a third party, since voluntarily dismissed), alleging state and federal trademark infringement and unfair competition relating to defendants’ alleged use of CR’s “Cross Road Storage” mark to boost defendants’ Google search results and to indicate, on defendants’ website, that CR’s self-storage facility is unavailable and redirect viewers to other storage sites under contract with the defendants. Judge Sorokin granted Selfstorage’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, finding that Selfstorage merely licensed use of its “selfstorage.com” domain name to Sparefoot for a licensing fee, which was insufficient to demonstrate purposeful availment of Massachusetts.  He granted Sparefoot’s motion to transfer pursuant to a forum selection clause in a contract between CR and Sparefoot executed on February 2, 2017, and denied CR’s emergency motion to amend its complaint as futile, as nothing in the amended complaint limited the allegations to the period prior to the execution of the agreement.  Judge Sorokin rejected CR’s argument that the terms of service that included the forum selection clause could not be applied, finding the on-line terms’ notification and affirmative requirement of agreement sufficed to render the term enforceable.  He likewise rejected CR’s argument that the requirement person executing the agreement on CR’s behalf lacked authority to bind CR, finding that the person had implied authority to do the acts required to enter into the agreement the company had asked him to enter into, and that the conduct of CR’s principal following the execution of the agreement was consistent with having conferred such authority.  The case was transferred to the Western District of Texas.