Facebook Must Prove Personal Jurisdiction In Trademark Infringement Suit Against Faceporn

By Joseph Mandour on December 9, 2011

mandour facebook California – A California Federal Court has raised, on its own motion, the issue of personal jurisdiction in Facebook’s trademark infringement suit against Faceporn.

A U.S. District Court in San Francisco placed the burden on the social networking site Facebook to show why Norway based Faceporn is subject to personal jurisdiction in California. The court will dismiss the action if Facebook is unable to show cause to subject Faceporn to jurisdiction in California.

Personal jurisdiction requires sufficient minimum contacts with the forum state including but not limited to advertising in the forum state, directing sales toward the forum state, and other actions evidencing that defendant purposefully availed itself of the protections of the forum state. An analysis of personal jurisdiction is also based on traditional notions of fair play and justice. The court determines whether it is fair to force a non-resident defendant to litigate an action in another jurisdiction. In this case, Facebook initially alleged that Faceporn has more than 250 active users in California and 1000 users in the United States. Facebook further claimed that Faceporn directed business to the U.S. by registering a .com domain name.

The District Court however, noted that these allegations alone were not sufficient to confer jurisdiction on Faceporn. The District Court Judge cautioned that without facts demonstrating that California residents constituted a substantial percentage of Faceporn’s business, the lawsuit would be dismissed for a lack of personal jurisdiction. The 9th Circuit cited Mavric Photo v. Brandtech in which the appellate court found that not all material on the internet was aimed at each jurisdiction simply because it was accessible there.

Facebook’s trademark infringement suit originated when Facebook discovered Norwegian company Retro Invent’s Faceporn.com site, which redirects to Faceporn.no. Faceporn is an adult entertainment, pornographic, and social networking site. American social networking giant Facebook claims that Faceporn’s name and domain name creates a likelihood of customer confusion and may deceive consumers into believing that Faceporn and Facebook are associated.

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