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