232 F.3d 1369 (Fed. Cir. 2000), 00-1052, LSI Industries Inc. v. Hubbell Lighting, Inc.

Docket Nº:00-1052.
Citation:232 F.3d 1369
Opinion Judge:GAJARSA, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:LSI INDUSTRIES INC., Plaintiff-Appellant, v. HUBBELL LIGHTING, INC., Defendant-Appellee.
Attorney:J. Robert Chambers, Wood, Herron, & Evans, L.L.P., of Cincinnati, Ohio, argued for plaintiff-appellant. With him on the brief was Theodore R. Remaklus. Marks S. Bicks, Roylance, Abrams, Berdo & Goodman, L.L.P., of Washington, DC, argued for defendant-appellee. With him on the brief was Alfred N. ...
Judge Panel:Before GAJARSA, LINN, and DYK, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:November 29, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
 
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232 F.3d 1369 (Fed. Cir. 2000)

LSI INDUSTRIES INC., Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

HUBBELL LIGHTING, INC., Defendant-Appellee.

No. 00-1052.

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit.

November 29, 2000

Manufacturer of canopy luminaire brought action for design patent infringement and trademark infringement against competitor. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Sandra S. Beckwith, J., 64 F.Supp.2d 705, dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction, and manufacturer appealed. The Court of Appeals, Gajarsa, Circuit Judge, held that competitor was subject to personal jurisdiction in Ohio based on its continuous and systematic contacts there.

Reversed and remanded.

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J. Robert Chambers, Wood, Herron, & Evans, L.L.P., of Cincinnati, Ohio, argued for plaintiff-appellant. With him on the brief was Theodore R. Remaklus.

Marks S. Bicks, Roylance, Abrams, Berdo & Goodman, L.L.P., of Washington, DC, argued for defendant-appellee. With him on the brief was Alfred N. Goodman.

Before GAJARSA, LINN, and DYK, Circuit Judges.

DECISION

GAJARSA, Circuit Judge.

LSI Industries, Inc. (" LSI" ) appeals the September 17, 1999 final judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio dismissing its complaint against Hubbell Lighting, Inc. (" Hubbell" ) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction. LSI Industries, Inc. v. Hubbell Lighting, Inc., 64 F.Supp.2d 705 (S.D.Ohio 1999). We reverse and remand.

BACKGROUND

LSI manufactures and sells lighting products, including its Scottsdale canopy luminaire. Hubbell sells a competing product that LSI contends infringes, inter alia, one of its design patents and its trademark rights. Hubbell is a Connecticut corporation that maintains its principal place of business in Virginia. It employs multiple distributors in Ohio and nets several millions of dollars per year from sales in Ohio. Hubbell, however, has not sold any of its allegedly infringing products in Ohio.

LSI filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on May 24, 1999 against Hubbell. Five weeks later, LSI filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to prevent Hubbell from selling its allegedly infringing product. In response, Hubbell moved to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue, or, in the alternative, for a change of venue. On July 8, 1999, the district court conducted a preliminary hearing. It determined a reasonable probability existed that LSI would establish that the district court could exercise personal jurisdiction over Hubbell. The court, however, denied LSI's motion for a temporary restraining order. Subsequently, Hubbell renewed its motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, or, alternatively, for a change of venue.

On rehearing, the district court determined that the Ohio long-arm statute, Ohio Revised Code (" O.R.C." ) section 2307.382, fails to reach the limits of the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. Accordingly, the district court stated that satisfaction of both the Due Process Clause and the Ohio long-arm statute was required for it to exercise personal jurisdiction over Hubbell. Based on Hubbell's significant contacts with the state of Ohio, the court concluded that it could properly exercise general jurisdiction over Hubbell pursuant to the Due Process Clause. The court, however, citing Beverly Hills Fan Co. v. Royal Sovereign Corp., 21 F.3d 1558, 30 U.S.P.Q.2d 1001 (Fed.Cir.1994), held that the locus of LSI's injury could not be in Ohio because Hubbell did not sell its allegedly infringing product in Ohio. Pursuant to this determination, the district court stated that Hubbell's sales activity failed to comply with the Ohio long-arm statute, and in particular with

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O.R.C. section 2307.382(A)(4).1 Therefore, the court concluded it could not exercise personal jurisdiction over Hubbell and consequently, granted Hubbell's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.

DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

Whether a court maintains personal jurisdiction over a party is a question of law that we review de novo. 3D Systems, Inc. v. Aarotech Laboratories, Inc., 160 F.3d 1373, 1376, 48 U.S.P.Q.2d 1773, 1775 (Fed.Cir.1998).

B. Jurisdiction and Choice of Law

The Federal Circuit maintains exclusive jurisdiction over an appeal from a district court when that court's jurisdiction is based at least in part on a claim arising under the patent laws of the United States. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1295(a); 1338(a) (1994 & Supp. IV 1998).

When analyzing personal jurisdiction for purposes of compliance with federal due process, Federal Circuit law applies. 3D Sys., 160 F.3d at 1377, 48 U.S.P.Q.2d at 1776. We defer to a state's highest court to interpret whether a defendant is amenable to process in the forum state. See Hortonville Joint Sch. Dist. No. 1 v. Hortonville Educ. Ass'n, 426 U.S. 482, 488, 96 S.Ct. 2308, 2312, 49 L.Ed.2d 1 (1976); see also 3D Sys., 160 F.3d at 1377, 48 U.S.P.Q.2d at 1775-76.

C. Personal Jurisdiction

A two-prong inquiry governs the determination of whether a court may properly exercise personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant. First, a defendant must be amenable to process in the forum state. Second, the court's exercise of personal jurisdiction over the defendant must comply with the precepts of federal due process as delineated in International Shoe Co. v. State of Wash., Office of Unemployment Compensation and Placement, 326 U.S. 310, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945) and its progeny.

The first prong of the personal jurisdiction inquiry was outlined by the United States Supreme Court in Omni Capital International, Ltd. v. Rudolf Wolff & Co., Ltd., 484 U.S. 97, 104, 108 S.Ct. 404, 409,98 L.Ed.2d 415 (1987):

Before a court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant, there must be more than notice to the defendant and a constitutionally sufficient relationship between the defendant and the forum...

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