Designer Skin LLC v. S & L Vitamins, Inc., et al.
No Mayo-San Francisco v. Charles Memminger, et al.
No. C-98-1392 PJH, 1998 U.S. Dist. Lexis 13154 (N.D. Cal., August 20, 1998)
Defendant Memminger was a Hawaii resident who operated a world wide website at "nomayo.com" which was the home of defendant "Worldwide I Hate Mayonnaise Club." On the site, which was available to residents of California as well as the rest of the United States, Memminger offered to sell club merchandise, including t-shirts bearing the phrase "No Mayo."
Plaintiff was a not-for-profit organization that held a trademark in the mark "No Mayo." Charging that defendants' operation of their website infringed and diluted its trademark, plaintiff brought suit in California where it was based. Plaintiff argued that the court could exercise personal jurisdiction over defendants because their operation of the "no mayo" website caused injury to plaintiff in California. The Magistrate Judge rejected this argument, and held that the Court lacked personal jurisdiction over the non-resident defendants. The court accordingly dismissed the action.
In reaching this conclusion, the Magistrate Judge relied on the Ninth Circuit's decision in Cybersell v. Cybersell, 130 F.3d 414 (9th Cir. 1997). Said the court:
Simply registering someone else's trademark as a domain name and posting a website on the Internet is not sufficient to subject a party domiciled in one state to jurisdiction in another. There must be "something more" to demonstrate that the defendant purposefully directed his activity in a substantial way toward the forum state.
That something more was lacking because defendants neither targeted Californians for sales (the site was available to all) nor, apparently, effectuated sales to Californians. Said the court:
[T]he court finds that the "something more" is missing. ... There is no evidence that defendants entered into any contracts or made any sales in [California]. Whatever solicitation for Club members appeared on the Club's website was not specifically directed at California residents, and there is no evidence that [defendant] Memminger contacted any California resident be telephone, other than Berry [one of plaintiff's principals]. Thus, the court finds that defendants did not purposefully avail themselves of the privilege of doing business in the state of California, and that the due process requirements for personal jurisdiction had not been met.