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Judge Sleet grants motion to dismiss counterclaim for lack of personal jurisidiction

Nespresso USA file a declaratory judgment complaint against Ethical Coffee Company requesting judgment that Nespresso does not infringement ECC’s patent.  Nespresso USA, Inc. v. Ethical Coffee Company SA, No. 16-194-GMS (D. Del. July 13, 2017).  In response, ECC filed a counterclaim against Nespresso, as well as three additional defendants which are Switzerland corporations.  The Swiss Defendants moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.   Judge Sleet granted the motion.  In doing so, Judge Sleet found that general jurisdiction was not present because “there [were] no ties between the companies and Delaware that render them essentially at home in this state[.]”  Id. at 5.  Regarding specific jurisdiction, Judge Sleet found that the Swiss Defendants were not subject to personal jurisdiction under the stream of commerce theory because they did not “did not introduce the Nespresso machines into the stream of commerce,” therefore ECC could not demonstrate that they “placed–or otherwise influenced the placement of–the Nespresso machines into either the United States market generally or the Delaware market specifically.”  Id. at 6-7.  Nor could the Swiss Defendants be held responsible for the actions of their subsidiary, Nespresso, because the mere ownership of a subsidiary or a patent, without more, does not justify the assertion of personal jurisdiction on the parent/foreign patentee. Id.at 7.  Judge Sleet also found a lack of evidence to support personal jurisdiction under an agency theory.  Id.at 8-9.  Because of the “bare assertions” in this case, Judge Sleet denied ECC’s request for jurisdictional discovery.  Id. at 14.

Nespresso USA, Inc. v. Ethical Coffee Company SA, No. 16-194-GMS

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