812 F.3d 54 (1st Cir. 2016), 15-1509, A Corp. v. All American Plumbing, Inc.

Docket Nº:15-1509
Citation:812 F.3d 54
Opinion Judge:THOMPSON, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:A CORP. D/B/A ROOTER MAN, Plaintiff, Appellant, v. ALL AMERICAN PLUMBING, INC., Defendant, Appellee
Attorney:Juan (Jenny) Liu for appellant. Albert A. DeNapoli, with whom Matthew S. Furman, and Tarlow, Breed, Hart & Rodgers, P.C., were on brief, for appellee.
Judge Panel:Before Lynch,[*] Thompson, and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:January 27, 2016
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
SUMMARY

A Corp., a Massachusetts plumbing corporation and franchisor, brought a trademark infringement action against All American Plumbing, Inc., an Arizona corporation with its principal place of business in Arizona, alleging that All American was improperly using A Corp.’s “Rooter Man” mark, or one confusingly similar, to advertise its plumbing business on its website. The district court dismissed the ... (see full summary)

 
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812 F.3d 54 (1st Cir. 2016)

A CORP. D/B/A ROOTER MAN, Plaintiff, Appellant,

v.

ALL AMERICAN PLUMBING, INC., Defendant, Appellee

No. 15-1509

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

January 27, 2016

Page 55

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS. Hon. Rya W. Zobel, U.S. District Judge.

Juan (Jenny) Liu for appellant.

Albert A. DeNapoli, with whom Matthew S. Furman, and Tarlow, Breed, Hart & Rodgers, P.C., were on brief, for appellee.

Before Lynch,[*] Thompson, and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

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THOMPSON, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff-appellant A Corp. appeals from the district court's dismissal of its trademark infringement action against defendant-appellee All American Plumbing, Inc. (" All American" ) for lack of personal jurisdiction. A Corp. argues that the district court had specific personal jurisdiction over All American because All American maintains an interactive website that is accessible in Massachusetts and caused injury to the trademark owner in Massachusetts. We disagree and affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

On August 28, 2014, A Corp. filed this trademark infringement action against All American, alleging federal trademark infringement, false designation of origin, dilution, interference with contractual relation, unfair competition, and unjust enrichment. A Corp. is a Massachusetts plumbing corporation and franchisor1 that owns the federal registrations of the " Rooter Man" mark, " A Rooter Man to the Rescue" mark, and the " Rooter Man" words (collectively, the " Rooter Man marks" ), which are registered for " cleaning and repairing septic systems and clearing clogged pipes and drains." 2 In its complaint, A Corp. alleged that All American -- a family-run plumbing company located in Arizona -- was improperly using A Corp.'s Rooter Man mark, or one confusingly similar, to advertise its plumbing business on its website, www.allamericanplumbingandrooter.com, which A Corp. described as being " interactive" and continuously " accessible in Massachusetts." A Corp. claimed that All American's unauthorized use of the Rooter Man marks interfered with A Corp.'s franchise agreement with its Arizona franchisee, confusing its customers and prospective franchisees as to the possible relationship between the two companies.

All American, an Arizona corporation with its principal place of business in Mesa, Arizona, subsequently moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue,3 highlighting that it conducts business exclusively in Arizona, with no employees, property, offices, or bank accounts in Massachusetts. All American further noted that it is only licensed to provide plumbing services in Arizona and that its website, although widely accessible, solicits plumbing business solely in Arizona. And even then, All American explained, its website solicitations are limited to providing the email addresses and local phone and fax numbers for All American's three Arizona locations -- East Valley, West Valley and Phoenix. All American's website does not mention Massachusetts, and All American has never offered or provided any plumbing services in Massachusetts.

After consideration of the parties' submissions, including affidavits submitted by both parties, the district court granted All American's motion to dismiss, concluding that A Corp. had not met its burden to establish either general or specific jurisdiction. The district court determined that A Corp. had only offered allegations

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or evidence of two contacts between All American and the Commonwealth: (1) All American's website, which is accessible in Massachusetts (along with everywhere else); and (2) All American's lawyer's general appearance in the action.4 Concluding that neither of these contacts were sufficient to establish jurisdiction, the district court specifically found that All American's website was not " interactive" and that it did not directly offer products or services for sale. Accordingly, the district court concluded that All American's website, standing alone, was insufficient to demonstrate that All American had purposefully availed itself of the forum.

A Corp. filed this timely appeal, challenging only the district court's conclusion as to the exercise of specific jurisdiction.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

We review de novo the district court's decision to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Phillips v. Prairie Eye Ctr., 530 F.3d 22, 26 (1st Cir. 2008).

A Corp. bears the burden to establish that specific jurisdiction exists over All American. Id. Below, the district court employed the prima facie method to determine whether A Corp. had met its burden.5 Under this standard, " the inquiry is whether [A Corp.] has proffered evidence which, if credited, is sufficient to support findings of all facts essential to personal jurisdiction." Id. at 26. It is not enough for A Corp. to " rely on unsupported allegations in [its] pleadings." Platten v. HG Bermuda Exempted Ltd., 437 F.3d 118, 134 (1st Cir. 2006) (quoting Boit v. Gar--Tec Prods., Inc., 967 F.2d 671, 675 (1st Cir. 1992)). Rather, A Corp. must put forward " evidence of specific facts" to...

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