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Link to Business With Forum Contacts No Support for Jurisdiction Over Website Operator

Early in 2004, NeoMedia Technologies, Inc filed a patent infringement lawsuits against AirClic Inc. and Scanbuy(TM), Inc. The lawsuit was dismissed in April 2004 by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, for lack of personal jurisdiction. An Illinois fedreal judge held that general jurisdiction cannot be established exclusively on the basis of a Website’s hyperlink to other sites that sell infringing products.


The websites of both AirClic and Scanbury allow users to submit contact information and later receive information about products and services. Scanbury's website also contained a hyperlink to another company (AESI) that sold products that incorporated Scanbuy software. AESI also sold software to Illinios residents. That was not enough to establish general jurisdiction in Illinoi. The court found that Scanbuy's website was more akin to an advertisement, simply trying to promote its business by attracting new customers. If personal jurisidiction would simply be based on Scanbuy's hyperlink to a website that is active in a forum, it would establish as precedent that any website owner who hyperlinks to a website that conducts business online would be susceptible to personal jurisdiction in every state and district. “It is therefore inappropriate for the hyperlink factor to tip the scales in favor of general jurisdiction in Illinois, when it would otherwise be lacking based solely on Scanbuy’s website,” the judge said.


Text of the decision


The court distinguished this case from LFG, LCC v. Zapata Corp., 78 F. Supp.2d 731 (N.D. Ill 199), a case in which a hyperlink was found to have created jurisdiction, by pointing out that, unlike here, the LFG website was a highly interactive portal website whose business it was to generate traffic to linked websites.



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