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Contracts, Copyrights, Trademarks or Intellectual Property

The “long-arm” reach of an intentional copyright infringement claim

The Ninth Circuit applied the State of Washington’s long-arm statute, written to extend personal jurisdiction over a defendant to the fullest extent permitted by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, to affirm personal jurisdiction over a defendant located in Arkansas. The complaint alleged facts that the defendant, an Arkansas retailer, committed an intentional act (selling boots that displayed infringing artwork) knowing that its conduct infringed the plaintiff’s copyrights and knowing that the plaintiff resided in the state of Washington. Even though the complaint did not allege that the defendant had other contacts in Washington, like another stores or internet sales to customers in Washington, the court found that defendant’s conduct in Arkansas was an intentional tort expressly aimed at the plaintiff who the defendant knew resided in Washington. The court also concluded that it was reasonably foreseeable that the harmful effect of defendant’s infringing conduct would be felt in Washington.

Note: If you receive a copyright infringement cease and desist letter, do not take it lightly, and do not assume that because you may be located in a different state that you are safe from the copyright claimant’s home state courts.

Case Name: Washington Shoe v. A-Z Sporting Goods

Date: December 17, 2012

Jurisdiction: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Type: Copyright infringement; Personal Jurisdiction

Case Status: Initial pleading stage; discovery on issue of personal jurisdiction only

Trial Court: Held, no personal jurisdiction over defendant

On Appeal: Reversed, facts pleaded allege sufficient minimum contacts

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