Judge Richard G. Andrews recently granted a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. M2M Solutions LLC v. Simcom Wireless Solutions Co., Ltd., et al., C.A. No. 12-034-RGA (D. Del. Apr. 1, 2013). The motion was filed by one of four defendants in the case—a Florida limited liability company with places of business located in Florida and Illinois. Id. at 1. The Court explained that it was undisputed that the defendant had no physical presence, employees, or third-party distributors in Delaware. Id. Nor was there any evidence that any single one of the defendant’s accused products ever entered Delaware. Id.
The plaintiff argued that the defendant was subject to personal jurisdiction based on its website, and on its relationship with customers who maintained retail stores in Delaware. More specifically, the plaintiff noted that the defendant’s website was accessible in Delaware, provided a toll-free phone number, and included references to the defendant being a “global” company with aspirations to increase activities throughout North America. Id. at 1-2. The Court recognized that the defendant’s website contained “public expressions of intent to serve the entirety of North America along with a toll-free phone number[,]” but found that because individuals accessing the website from Delaware could not place an order directly through the website, it was more of a passive website under the test laid out in Zippo Manufacturing Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, Inc., 952 F. Supp. 119 (W.D. Pa. 1997). Id. at 6 n.3. As a result, the Court found that the defendant’s passive website could not support a finding of personal jurisdiction over the defendant.
The Court next rejected the argument that the defendant was subject to personal jurisdiction based on its relationship with customers with Delaware retail stores. Id. at 7. The Court acknowledged that “[i]t is a tenable theory under the Delaware long-arm statute that [the defendant] may be subject to personal jurisdiction for placing infringing products in the ‘stream of commerce[,]” but in this case the Court found the evidence supporting that theory to be “completely speculative” given that there was no allegation that even a single product had entered Delaware. Id. (“It would seem that an absolute minimum requirement of the ‘stream of commerce’ test is the allegation that an infringing product has actually entered the market of the forum state.”). The Court concluded by explaining: “there is zero evidence that any [of the defendant’s] products have entered the Delaware market, let alone evidence suggesting a ‘regular and anticipated’ flow of products into the state.” Id. at 9. As a result, the Court denied the plaintiff’s request for jurisdictional discovery, and granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss. Id.