Bensusan Restaurant Corp. v. King, No. 96 Civ. 3992 (SHS).

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
Writing for the CourtRobert A. Bourque, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, New York City, for defendant
Citation937 F. Supp. 295
Docket NumberNo. 96 Civ. 3992 (SHS).
Decision Date09 September 1996
PartiesBENSUSAN RESTAURANT CORPORATION, Plaintiff, v. Richard B. KING, individually and d/b/a The Blue Note, Defendant.

937 F. Supp. 295

BENSUSAN RESTAURANT CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
Richard B. KING, individually and d/b/a The Blue Note, Defendant.

No. 96 Civ. 3992 (SHS).

United States District Court, S.D. New York.

September 9, 1996.


937 F. Supp. 296
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
937 F. Supp. 297
Dorothy M. Weber, Shukat, Arrow Hafert & Weber, L.L.P., New York City, for plaintiff

Robert A. Bourque, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, New York City, for defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

STEIN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Bensusan Restaurant Corp. ("Bensusan") brought this action against defendant Richard King, individually and doing business as The Blue Note, alleging that King is infringing on Bensusan's rights in its trademark "The Blue Note." King has moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Fed. R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). The issue raised by that motion is whether the existence of a "site" on the World Wide Web of the Internet, without anything more, is sufficient to vest this Court with personal jurisdiction over defendant pursuant to New York's long-arm statute and the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. For the reasons that follow, the motion to dismiss the complaint is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Bensusan, a New York corporation, is the creator of a jazz club in New York City known as "The Blue Note." It also operates other jazz clubs around the world. Bensusan owns all rights, title and interest in and to the federally registered mark "The Blue Note." (Complaint, ¶¶ 1, 5.) King is an individual who lives in Columbia, Missouri and he owns and operates a "small club" in that city which is also called "The Blue Note." (Complaint, ¶¶ 2, 6.)

In April of 1996, King posted a "site" on the World Wide Web of the Internet to promote his club.1 This Web site, which is located on a computer server in Missouri, allegedly contains "a fanciful logo which is substantially similar to the logo utilized by Bensusan." (Complaint, ¶ 11.) The Web site is a general access site, which means that it requires no authentication or access code for entry, and is accessible to anyone around the world who has access to the Internet. (Meltzer Aff., ¶ 2.) It contains general information about the club in Missouri as well as a calendar of events and ticketing information. (Id., ¶¶ 2-3; Exhs. A & B.) The ticketing information includes the names and addresses of ticket outlets in Columbia and a telephone number for charge-by-phone ticket orders, which are available for pick-up on the night of the show at the Blue Note box office in Columbia. (Id., Exh. B.)

At the time this action was brought, the first page of the Web site contained the following disclaimer: "The Blue Note's Cyberspot should not be confused with one of the world's finest jazz clubs the Blue

937 F. Supp. 298
Note, located in the heart of New York's Greenwich Village. If you should find yourself in the big apple give them a visit." (Complaint, ¶ 9.) Furthermore, the reference to Bensusan's club in the disclaimer contained a "hyperlink"2 which permits Internet users to connect directly to Bensusan's Web site by "clicking" on the link. (Id. at ¶ 10.) After Bensusan objected to the Web site, King dropped the sentence "If you should find yourself in the big apple give them a visit" from the disclaimer and removed the hyperlink. (King Aff., ¶ 14.)

Bensusan brought this action asserting claims for trademark infringement, trademark dilution and unfair competition. King has now moved to dismiss the action for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Fed. R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2).

II. DISCUSSION

At this stage of the litigation — prior to an evidentiary hearing or discovery — Bensusan may defeat a motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction by making merely a prima facie showing of jurisdiction. See A.I. Trade Finance, Inc. v. Petra Bank, 989 F.2d 76, 79-80 (2d Cir.1993); Hoffritz for Cutlery, Inc. v. Amajac, Ltd., 763 F.2d 55, 57 (2d Cir.1985); Rothschild v. Paramount Distillers, Inc., 923 F.Supp. 433, 435 (S.D.N.Y.1996); PI, Inc. v. Quality Prods., Inc., 907 F.Supp. 752, 758 (S.D.N.Y. 1995); Dave Guardala Mouthpieces, Inc. v. Sugal Mouthpieces, Inc., 779 F.Supp. 335, 336-37 (S.D.N.Y.1991).

In that regard, Bensusan is entitled to have its complaint and affidavits interpreted, and any doubts resolved, in the light most favorable to it. See Landoil Resources Corp. v. Alexander & Alexander Servs., Inc., 918 F.2d 1039, 1043 (2d Cir.1991); Hoffritz for Cutlery, 763 F.2d at 57; Linzer v. EMI Blackwood Music, Inc., 904 F.Supp. 207, 211 (S.D.N.Y.1995); Editorial Musical Latino Americana, S.A. v. Mar Int'l Records, Inc., 829 F.Supp. 62, 64 (S.D.N.Y.1993). This burden is satisfied even when the moving party makes contrary allegations that place in dispute the factual basis of plaintiff's prima facie case. See A.I. Trade Finance, 989 F.2d at 79-80; Marine Midland Bank, N.A. v. Miller, 664 F.2d 899, 904 (2d Cir.1981); Lancaster v. Zufle, 165 F.R.D. 38, 40 (S.D.N.Y. 1996); National Cathode Corp. v. Mexus Co., 855 F.Supp. 644, 646 (S.D.N.Y.1994).

Furthermore, where, as in this case, discovery has not commenced on this issue or any other, plaintiff is entitled to rely on mere factual allegations to make its prima facie showing of jurisdiction. See Ball v. Metallurgie Hoboken-Overpelt, S.A., 902 F.2d 194, 197 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 854, 111 S.Ct. 150, 112 L.Ed.2d 116 (1990); Rothschild, 923 F.Supp. at 436; Executive Telecard, Ltd. v. Engelman, No. 95 Civ. 9505, 1996 WL 191967, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 19, 1996); Pilates, Inc. v. Pilates Inst., Inc., 891 F.Supp. 175, 177 (S.D.N.Y.1995); Palmieri v. Estefan, 793 F.Supp. 1182, 1186 (S.D.N.Y. 1992); Kinetic Instruments, Inc. v. Lares, 802 F.Supp. 976, 981 (S.D.N.Y.1992). Matters outside the pleadings, however, may also be considered in resolving a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2) without converting it into one for summary judgment. See Visual Sciences, Inc. v. Integrated Communications, Inc., 660 F.2d 56, 58 (2d Cir.1981); Rothschild, 923 F.Supp. at 436; John Hancock Property and Casualty Ins. Co. v. Universale Reinsurance Co., Ltd., No. 91 Civ. 3644, 1992 WL 26765, at *6 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 5, 1992).

Knowing that personal jurisdiction over a defendant is measured by the law of the jurisdiction in which the federal court sits, see Rothschild, 923 F.Supp. at 436 (citing Pilates, 891 F.Supp. at 179), Editorial Musical Latino Americana, 829 F.Supp. at 64, Bensusan relies on subdivisions (a)(2) and (a)(3)(ii) of N.Y.C.P.L.R. § 302, New York's long-arm statute, to support its position that personal jurisdiction exists over King in this action. Each provision will be addressed in turn.

937 F. Supp. 299

A. C.P.L.R. § 302(A)(2)

C.P.L.R. § 302(a)(2) permits a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over any non-domiciliary who "commits a tortious act within the state" as long as the cause of action asserted arises from the tortious act. See Pilates, 891 F.Supp. at 180; Exovir, Inc. v. Mandel, No. 94 Civ. 3546, 1995 WL 413256, at *6 (S.D.N.Y. July 12, 1995); Dave Guardala Mouthpieces, 779 F.Supp. at 337; Business Trends Analysts v. Freedonia Group, Inc., 650 F.Supp. 1452, 1456 (S.D.N.Y.1987).

In Vanity Fair Mills, Inc. v. T. Eaton Co., 234 F.2d 633, 639 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 352 U.S. 871, 77 S.Ct. 96, 1 L.Ed.2d 76 (1956), the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that trademark infringement occurs "where the passing off occurs, i.e., where the deceived customer buys the defendant's product in the belief that he is buying the plaintiffs." Under this standard, courts have found that an offering for sale of even one copy of an infringing product in New York, even if no sale results, is sufficient to vest a court with jurisdiction over the alleged infringer. See Editorial Musical Latino Americana, 829 F.Supp. at 64-65; German Educational Television Network, Ltd. v. Oregon...

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  • Pavlovich v. Superior Court, No. S100809.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • November 25, 2002
    ...an act purposefully directed toward the forum state.'" (Cybersell, at p. 418, quoting Bensusan Restaurant Corp. v. King (S.D.N.Y.1996) 937 F.Supp. 295, 301, affd. (2d Cir.1997) 126 F.3d 25.) Otherwise, "personal jurisdiction in Internet-related cases would almost always be found in any foru......
  • Atkinson v. McLaughlin, No. A1-03-091.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of North Dakota
    • November 4, 2004
    ..."[a] `site' is an Internet address that permits the exchange of information with a host computer. Bensusan Restaurant Corp. v. King, 937 F.Supp. 295 (S.D.N.Y.1996). The `Web' or `World Wide Web' refers to the collection of sites available on the 3. The McLaughlins contend the allegedly defa......
  • Zidon v. Pickrell, No. A1-04-113.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of North Dakota
    • November 8, 2004
    ..."[a] `site' is an Internet address that permits the exchange of information with a host computer. Bensusan Restaurant Corp. v. King, 937 F.Supp. 295 (S.D.N.Y.1996). The `Web' or `World Wide Web' refers to the collection of sites available on the 2. North Dakota has adopted the common-law de......
  • Dakcoll, Inc. v. Grand Central Graphics, Inc., Case No. A1-04-126.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of North Dakota
    • January 20, 2005
    ..."[a] `site' is an Internet address that permits the exchange of information with a host computer. Bensusan Restaurant Corp. v. King, 937 F.Supp. 295 (S.D.N.Y.1996). The `Web' or `World Wide Web' refers to the collection of sites available on the 3. The holding in Lakin marked the addition o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
155 cases
  • Pavlovich v. Superior Court, No. S100809.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • November 25, 2002
    ...an act purposefully directed toward the forum state.'" (Cybersell, at p. 418, quoting Bensusan Restaurant Corp. v. King (S.D.N.Y.1996) 937 F.Supp. 295, 301, affd. (2d Cir.1997) 126 F.3d 25.) Otherwise, "personal jurisdiction in Internet-related cases would almost always be found in any foru......
  • Atkinson v. McLaughlin, No. A1-03-091.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of North Dakota
    • November 4, 2004
    ..."[a] `site' is an Internet address that permits the exchange of information with a host computer. Bensusan Restaurant Corp. v. King, 937 F.Supp. 295 (S.D.N.Y.1996). The `Web' or `World Wide Web' refers to the collection of sites available on the 3. The McLaughlins contend the allegedly defa......
  • Zidon v. Pickrell, No. A1-04-113.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of North Dakota
    • November 8, 2004
    ..."[a] `site' is an Internet address that permits the exchange of information with a host computer. Bensusan Restaurant Corp. v. King, 937 F.Supp. 295 (S.D.N.Y.1996). The `Web' or `World Wide Web' refers to the collection of sites available on the 2. North Dakota has adopted the common-law de......
  • Dakcoll, Inc. v. Grand Central Graphics, Inc., Case No. A1-04-126.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of North Dakota
    • January 20, 2005
    ..."[a] `site' is an Internet address that permits the exchange of information with a host computer. Bensusan Restaurant Corp. v. King, 937 F.Supp. 295 (S.D.N.Y.1996). The `Web' or `World Wide Web' refers to the collection of sites available on the 3. The holding in Lakin marked the addition o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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