Designer Skin LLC v. S & L Vitamins, Inc., et al.
American Homecare Federation, Inc. v. Paragon Scientific Corporation, et al.
27 F. Supp. 2d 109 (D. Conn., October 26, 1998)
Plaintiff and defendant Paragon Scientific Corporation ("PSC") are competitors that each operate a service delivering medical products to hemophiliacs who are missing the antihemophilic factor from their blood, which is commonly known as "AHF." Plaintiff brought this trademark infringement action against defendant, a Texas-based corporation, in Connecticut. Plaintiff's claim arises out of defendant's use of the acronym "AHF" in connection with its charitable summer camp program "A Happy Face" which defendant underwrites for children with hemophilia. Defendant allegedly used this acronym in promoting its summer camp on the Internet. This use allegedly infringed plaintiff's claimed service mark in "AHF."
Plaintiff claimed the Connecticut federal court could exercise personal jurisdiction over defendant PSC in this trademark infringement action solely by virtue of its operation of a web site available to all United States residents, including those of Connecticut. Defendant had no other contacts with Connecticut, except for a single advertisement for its products that ran in a national trade catalogue.
Defendant's web site is neither used to advertise nor sell PSC's products. Said the court:
The web site does not list the PSC products which are sold nor does it provide any process for ordering such products. No sales of pharmaceuticals occur through the web site and an individual accessing the site cannot order any PSC products. It does not provide anyone with files to download, nor does it link to anyone else's web site.
Rather, the sole purpose of the web site is to provide information concerning the "A Happy Face" summer camp program. The web site contained a "simple announcement to all hemophilia chapters in the United States, including the Connecticut chapter, of an essay writing contest for children afflicted with hemophilia, to be submitted to PSC in Texas." The site also contained an "800" telephone number that all United States residents, including those residing in Connecticut, could use to contact PSC.
The court held that these contacts were insufficient to permit it to assert personal jurisdiction over defendant PSC under Connecticut's long arm statute, and dismissed the complaint. Said the court:
At the opposite end are situations where a defendant has simply posted information on an Internet Web site accessible to users in foreign jurisdictions. This category, a passive web site, which does little more than make information available to those who are interested in it, is not grounds for personal jurisdiction. ... The court holds that the "A Happy Face" is simply a passive web site.