Zippo Mfg. Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, Inc., Civil Action No. 96-397 Erie.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. Western District of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtMcLaughlin
Citation952 F.Supp. 1119
PartiesZIPPO MANUFACTURING COMPANY, Plaintiff, v. ZIPPO DOT COM, INC., Defendant.
Decision Date16 January 1997
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 96-397 Erie.
952 F.Supp. 1119
ZIPPO MANUFACTURING COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
ZIPPO DOT COM, INC., Defendant.
Civil Action No. 96-397 Erie.
United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania.
January 16, 1997.

Page 1120

Paul I. Pearlman, Hodgson, Russ, Andrews, Woods & Goodyear, Buffalo, NY and Ronald J. Rademacher, Wick, Streiff, Meyer, Metz & O'Boyle, Pittsburgh, PA, for plaintiff.

David Henry Dolkas and Colleen Maguire, Gray, Cary, Ware & Freidenrich, Palo Alto, CA, for defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

McLAUGHLIN, District Judge.


This is an Internet domain name1 dispute. At this stage of the controversy, we must

Page 1121

decide the Constitutionally permissible reach of Pennsylvania's Long Arm Statute, 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 5322, through cyberspace. Plaintiff Zippo Manufacturing Corporation ("Manufacturing") has filed a five count complaint against Zippo Dot Com, Inc. ("Dot Com") alleging trademark dilution, infringement, and false designation under the Federal Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1051-1127. In addition, the Complaint alleges causes of action based on state law trademark dilution under 54 Pa.C.S.A. § 1124, and seeks equitable accounting and imposition of a constructive trust. Dot Com has moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2) and (3) or, in the alternative, to transfer the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is denied.

I. BACKGROUND

The facts relevant to this motion are as follows. Manufacturing is a Pennsylvania corporation with its principal place of business in Bradford, Pennsylvania. Manufacturing makes, among other things, well known "Zippo" tobacco lighters. Dot Com is a California corporation with its principal place of business in Sunnyvale, California. Dot Com operates an Internet Web site2 and an Internet news service and has obtained the exclusive right to use the domain names "zippo.com", "zippo.net" and "zipponews.com" on the Internet.3

Dot Com's Web site contains information about the company, advertisements and an application for its Internet news service. The news service itself consists of three levels of membership — public/free, "Original" and "Super." Each successive level offers access to a greater number of Internet newsgroups. A customer who wants to subscribe to either the "Original" or "Super" level of service, fills out an on-line application that asks for a variety of information including the person's name and address. Payment is made by credit card over the Internet or the telephone. The application is then processed and the subscriber is assigned a password which permits the subscriber to view and/or download Internet newsgroup messages that are stored on the Defendant's server in California.

Dot Com's contacts with Pennsylvania have occurred almost exclusively over the Internet. Dot Com's offices, employees and Internet servers are located in California. Dot Com maintains no offices, employees or agents in Pennsylvania. Dot Com's advertising for its service to Pennsylvania residents involves posting information about its service on its Web page, which is accessible to Pennsylvania residents via the Internet. Defendant has approximately 140,000 paying subscribers worldwide. Approximately two percent (3,000) of those subscribers are Pennsylvania residents. These subscribers have contracted to receive Dot Com's service by visiting its Web site and filling out the application. Additionally, Dot Com has entered into agreements with seven Internet access providers in Pennsylvania to permit their subscribers to access Dot Com's news service. Two of these providers are located in the Western District of Pennsylvania.

The basis of the trademark claims is Dot Com's use of the word "Zippo" in the domain names it holds, in numerous locations in its Web site and in the heading of Internet newsgroup messages that have been posted by Dot Com subscribers. When an Internet user views or downloads a newsgroup message posted by a Dot Com subscriber, the word "Zippo" appears in the "Message-Id"

Page 1122

and "Organization" sections of the heading.4 The news message itself, containing text and/or pictures, follows. Manufacturing points out that some of the messages contain adult oriented, sexually explicit subject matter.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

When a defendant raises the defense of the court's lack of personal jurisdiction, the burden falls upon the plaintiff to come forward with sufficient facts to establish that jurisdiction is proper. Mellon Bank (East) PSFS, N.A. v. Farino, 960 F.2d 1217, 1223 (3d Cir.1992) (citing Carteret Savings Bank v. Shushan, 954 F.2d 141 (3d Cir.1992), cert. denied 506 U.S. 817, 113 S.Ct. 61, 121 L.Ed.2d 29 (1992)). The plaintiff meets this burden by making a prima facie showing of "sufficient contacts between the defendant and the forum state." Mellon East, 960 F.2d at 1223 (citing Provident Nat. Bank v. California Fed. Sav. & Loan Assoc., 819 F.2d 434 (3d Cir.1987)).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Personal Jurisdiction

1. The Traditional Framework

Our authority to exercise personal jurisdiction in this case is conferred by state law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(e); Mellon, 960 F.2d at 1221. The extent to which we may exercise that authority is governed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution. Kulko v. Superior Court of California, 436 U.S. 84, 91, 98 S.Ct. 1690, 1696, 56 L.Ed.2d 132 (1978).

Pennsylvania's long arm jurisdiction statute is codified at 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5322(a). The portion of the statute authorizing us to exercise jurisdiction here permits the exercise of jurisdiction over non-resident defendants upon:

(2) Contracting to supply services or things in this Commonwealth.

42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5322(a). It is undisputed that Dot Com contracted to supply Internet news services to approximately 3,000 Pennsylvania residents and also entered into agreements with seven Internet access providers in Pennsylvania. Moreover, even if Dot Com's conduct did not satisfy a specific provision of the statute, we would nevertheless be authorized to exercise jurisdiction to the "fullest extent allowed under the Constitution of the United States." 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5322(b).

The Constitutional limitations on the exercise of personal jurisdiction differ depending upon whether a court seeks to exercise general or specific jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant. Mellon, 960 F.2d at 1221. General jurisdiction permits a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant for non-forum related activities when the defendant has engaged in "systematic and continuous" activities in the forum state. Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414-16, 104 S.Ct. 1868, 1872-73, 80 L.Ed.2d 404 (1984). In the absence of general jurisdiction, specific jurisdiction permits a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant for forum-related activities where the "relationship between the defendant and the forum falls within the `minimum contacts' framework" of International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945) and its progeny. Mellon, 960 F.2d at 1221. Manufacturing does not contend that we should exercise general personal jurisdiction over Dot Com. Manufacturing concedes that if personal jurisdiction exists in this case, it must be specific.

A three-pronged test has emerged for determining whether the exercise of specific personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant is appropriate: (1) the defendant must have sufficient "minimum contacts" with the forum state, (2) the claim asserted

Page 1123

against the defendant must arise out of those contacts, and (3) the exercise of jurisdiction must be reasonable. Id. The "Constitutional touchstone" of the minimum contacts analysis is embodied in the first prong, "whether the defendant purposefully established" contacts with the forum state. Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 475, 105 S.Ct. 2174, 2183-84, 85 L.Ed.2d 528 (1985) (citing International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 319, 66 S.Ct. 154, 159-60, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945)). Defendants who "`reach out beyond one state' and create continuing relationships and obligations with the citizens of another state are subject to regulation and sanctions in the other State for consequences of their actions." Id. (citing Travelers Health Assn. v. Virginia, 339 U.S. 643, 647, 70 S.Ct. 927, 929, 94 L.Ed. 1154 (1950)). "[T]he foreseeability that is critical to the due process analysis is ... that the defendant's conduct and connection with the forum State are such that he should reasonably expect to be haled into court there." World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297, 100 S.Ct. 559, 567, 62 L.Ed.2d 490 (1980). This protects defendants from being forced to answer for their actions in a foreign jurisdiction based on "random, fortuitous or attenuated" contacts. Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, Inc., 465 U.S. 770, 774, 104 S.Ct. 1473, 1478, 79 L.Ed.2d 790 (1984). "Jurisdiction is proper, however, where contacts proximately result from actions by the defendant himself that create a `substantial connection' with the forum State." Burger King, 471 U.S. at 475, 105 S.Ct. at 2183-84 (citing McGee v. International Life Insurance Co., 355 U.S. 220, 223, 78 S.Ct. 199, 201, 2 L.Ed.2d 223 (1957)).

The "reasonableness" prong exists to protect defendants against unfairly inconvenient litigation. World-Wide Volkswagen, 444 U.S. at 292, 100 S.Ct. at 564-65. Under this prong, the exercise of jurisdiction will be reasonable if it does not offend "traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." International Shoe, 326 U.S. at 316, 66 S.Ct. at 158. When determining the reasonableness of a particular forum, the court must consider the burden on the defendant in light of other factors including: "the forum state's interest in adjudicating the dispute; the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
1098 practice notes
  • C.S.B. Commodities, Inc. v. Urban Trend (Hk) Ltd., Case No. 08 cv 1548.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • January 7, 2009
    ...can give rise to specific personal jurisdiction under the sliding scale approach set forth in Zippo Mfg. Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, Inc., 952 F.Supp. 1119, 1123-1124 (W.D.Pa. 1997); see also Berthold Types Ltd. v. European Mikrograf Corp., 102 F.Supp.2d 928 (N.D.Ill.2000).10 Thus, the trade show......
  • Pavlovich v. Superior Court, No. S100809.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • November 25, 2002
    ...and commercial nature of the exchange of information that occurs on the Web site." (Zippo Mfg. Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, Inc. (W.D.Pa.1997) 952 F.Supp. 1119, Here, LiVid's Web site merely posts information and has no interactive features. There is no evidence in the record suggesting that the s......
  • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., No. CIV.01-08541 SVW.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • January 9, 2003
    ...nature of the exchange of information that occurs'" with the forum state. Id. at 418 (quoting Zippo Mfg. Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, 952 F.Supp. 1119, 1124 In this analysis, the Court considers the scope and nature of the related contacts. Factors include whether the defendant encouraged resident......
  • In re Blue Flame Energy Corp., No. 05AP-1053.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • December 26, 2006
    ...than display information, does not subject a defendant to specific jurisdiction. Zippo Mfg. Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, Inc. (W.D.Pa. 1997), 952 F.Supp. 1119, 1124. See, also, Neogen, at 890 ("The level of contact with a state that occurs simply from the fact of a website's availability on the In......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1092 cases
  • C.S.B. Commodities, Inc. v. Urban Trend (Hk) Ltd., Case No. 08 cv 1548.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • January 7, 2009
    ...can give rise to specific personal jurisdiction under the sliding scale approach set forth in Zippo Mfg. Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, Inc., 952 F.Supp. 1119, 1123-1124 (W.D.Pa. 1997); see also Berthold Types Ltd. v. European Mikrograf Corp., 102 F.Supp.2d 928 (N.D.Ill.2000).10 Thus, the trade show......
  • Pavlovich v. Superior Court, No. S100809.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • November 25, 2002
    ...and commercial nature of the exchange of information that occurs on the Web site." (Zippo Mfg. Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, Inc. (W.D.Pa.1997) 952 F.Supp. 1119, Here, LiVid's Web site merely posts information and has no interactive features. There is no evidence in the record suggesting that the s......
  • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., No. CIV.01-08541 SVW.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • January 9, 2003
    ...nature of the exchange of information that occurs'" with the forum state. Id. at 418 (quoting Zippo Mfg. Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, 952 F.Supp. 1119, 1124 In this analysis, the Court considers the scope and nature of the related contacts. Factors include whether the defendant encouraged resident......
  • In re Blue Flame Energy Corp., No. 05AP-1053.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • December 26, 2006
    ...than display information, does not subject a defendant to specific jurisdiction. Zippo Mfg. Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, Inc. (W.D.Pa. 1997), 952 F.Supp. 1119, 1124. See, also, Neogen, at 890 ("The level of contact with a state that occurs simply from the fact of a website's availability on the In......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 firm's commentaries
3 books & journal articles
  • FORD'S UNDERLYING CONTROVERSY.
    • United States
    • Washington University Law Review Vol. 99 Nbr. 4, April 2022
    • April 1, 2022
    ...prominence" even though it "had no obvious logical or policy advantage over its competitors") (citing Zippo Mfg. Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, 952 F. Supp. 1119 (W.D. Pa. (307.) See, e.g., Serrante v. Figliolia, No. CV 09-417 (AET), 2009 WL 10729929, at *1 (D.N.J. Aug. 3, 2009) (describing purposef......
  • Personal Jurisdiction, Process, and Venue in Antitrust and Business Tort Litigation
    • United States
    • ABA Antitrust Library Business Torts and Unfair Competition Handbook Business tort litigation
    • January 1, 2014
    ...559, 566-70 (2009) (summarizing cases and their effect on pre-Zippo jurisprudence). 153. See Zippo Mfg. Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, Inc., 952 F. Supp. 1119, 1123-25 (W.D. Pa. 1997). 154. Id. at 1125-27. 155. See Hy Cite Corp. v. Badbusinessbureau.com, 297 F. Supp. 2d 1154, 1159-61 (W.D. Wis. 2004......
  • Traditional Notions of Fair Play and Substantial Justice in the Age of Internet Interconnectivity: How Masking an IP Address Could Constitute Purposeful Availment.
    • United States
    • Yale Journal of Law & Technology Vol. 21 Nbr. 1, January 2019
    • January 1, 2019
    ...See, e.g., Inset Systems, Inc. v. Instruction Set, Inc., 937 F. Supp. 161, 162 (D. Conn. 1996); Zippo Mfg. Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, Inc., 952 F. Supp. 1119, 1124 (W.D. Pa. (19) See, e.g., Zippo Mfg. Co., 952 F. Supp. at 1124 ("Nevertheless, our review of the available cases and materials revea......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT