Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The risks of exhibiting products at trade shows

International Shoe appears in the personal jurisdiction case of Patent Rights Protection Group v. Video Gaming and Spec :

The “constitutional touchstone” of the due process inquiry “remains whether
the defendant purposefully established ‘minimum contacts’ in the forum State.” Burger
King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 474 (1985) (citing Int’l Shoe Co. v. Washington,
326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)).

The district court had not found jurisdiction:

The district court concluded that exercising personal jurisdiction would be
unreasonable, finding that three factors militated in favor of this conclusion: (1) both
SPEC and VGT had limited purposeful contact with Nevada, consisting essentially of
only appearances at trade shows; (2) both the companies and their respective
witnesses are located outside Nevada, making defending a lawsuit in Nevada
burdensome; and (3) both companies would be subject to personal jurisdiction in
another forum, namely, Michigan or Tennessee.

But the CAFC thought otherwise:

We agree with Patent Rights. “[B]ecause modern transportation and
communications have made it much less burdensome for a party sued to defend [itself]”
outside its home state, Burger King, 471 U.S. at 474 (citation omitted), defending this
suit in Nevada is not prohibitively burdensome for either SPEC or VGT. Indeed, their
admitted presence at numerous trade shows in Nevada indicates that, despite their
arguments to the contrary, neither company faces a particularly onerous burden in
defending itself in Nevada.

Of the risks of going to a trade show:

We again agree with Patent Rights. Patent Rights’ request for jurisdictional
discovery is not based on a mere hunch; rather, the request is supported by the
declaration of Joseph P. Cole, the inventor of the subject matter claimed in the Gaming
Patents and a “member” of Patent Rights. Cole declared that he was aware that SPEC
and VGT had used and marketed what appeared to be infringing gaming machines at
exhibits at the Global Gaming Expo (“the Expo”), a gaming trade show held in Las
Vegas, Nevada. Cole stated that upon information and belief these gaming machines
were operational and set up to present games at the Expo. Although SPEC and VGT
each take issue with Cole’s declaration, neither company denies attending this trade
show and exhibiting gaming products while there.


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