Monday, April 20, 2009

Attendance at San Diego trade show snags Brazilian company

As a warning to foreign companies, note that attending trade shows in the
US can create specific jurisdiction.

The CAFC noted in SYNTHES v. GMReis of specific jurisdiction:

We have, however, outlined a three-factor test for specific jurisdiction, which
considers whether (1) the defendant purposefully directed its activities at residents of
the forum, (2) the claim arises out of or relates to the defendant’s activities with the
forum, and (3) assertion of personal jurisdiction is reasonable and fair. Elecs. for
Imaging, 340 F.3d at 1350; see also Burger King, 471 U.S. at 472–73 (citing Keeton v.
Hustler Magazine, Inc., 465 U.S. 770, 774 (1984), and Helicopteros Nacionales, 466
U.S. at 414).


We think the district court erred, however, in its ruling that it lacked specific
jurisdiction over GMReis. Applying the first factor of our three-factor test for specific
jurisdiction, we conclude that GMReis purposefully directed its activities at parties in the
United States. The following undisputed facts support this conclusion. On behalf of
GMReis, Mr. Lecumberri brought locking bone plates into the United States from Brazil.
As representatives of GMReis, Mr. dos Reis and Mr. Lecumberri displayed those items
at the GMReis booth at the 2007 AAOS Meeting in San Diego, California. In addition, in
their declarations, Mr. dos Reis and Mr. Lecumberri admitted that they attended the
AAOS Meeting because GMReis wanted to display its products to attendees of the
trade show. In fact, in its motion to dismiss, GMReis noted that its participation in the
2007 AAOS Meeting was part of its international sales effort. Together, these deliberate
contacts support a finding that GMReis purposefully availed itself of the United States.
As for the second factor, Synthes’s claim of patent infringement arises out of
GMReis’s activities in the United States. Synthes’s complaint alleges that GMReis has
been, and still is, making, using, offering for sale, selling, and/or importing into the
United States products, systems, and/or apparatuses that infringe the ’744 patent, all in
violation of 35 U.S.C. § 271(a). Synthes states in the complaint that GMReis is subject
to personal jurisdiction because GMReis directly and through agents imported into the
United States, and/or offered to sell, locking plates that infringe Synthes’s ’744 patent.
Synthes also states that GMReis displayed the locking plates at the 2007 AAOS
Meeting for the purpose of generating interest in infringing products, to the commercial
detriment of Synthes. Synthes’s claim of patent infringement, therefore, arises directly
out of GMReis’s bringing the locking bone plates into the United States, displaying them
at the 2007 AAOS Meeting in San Diego, and trying to generate interest in GMReis
products among attendees of the trade show.

The problem for the Brazil company -->

However, while these facts do tend to show
that GMReis’s sales efforts were purposefully not directed at U.S. residents, they do not
change the undisputed facts that GMReis purposefully directed its travel with the
sample locking bone plates to the United States and then displayed those products at a
trade show in the United States attended by U.S. residents. GMReis was present in the
United States through two of its employees (including its Chief Executive Officer), both
of whom conducted company business at the trade show.

See also


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