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Renfrow v. BDP Innovative Chemicals Co.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

December 15, 2014

Lance L. Renfrow, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BDP Innovative Chemicals Company, Defendant.

ORDER

G. MURRAY SNOW, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Defendant BDP Innovative Chemicals Company's ("BDP's") Motion to Dismiss and Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike portions of BDP's Reply. (Docs. 16, 26.) For the following reasons, the Motion to Dismiss is denied and the Motion to Strike is granted.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs claim that BDP infringes U.S. Patent No. 6, 855, 679 (679), a patent for a detergent composition issued to Plaintiff Lance Renfrow in 2005. Specific to the current Motion, Plaintiffs claim that BDP manufactures several products, including draft beer line cleaners, that embody the composition patented by 679. Since 2002, BDP has sold the draft beer line cleaners throughout the United States, including in Arizona, by way of a third-party distributor, Micro Matic, Inc. ("Micro Matic"). Micro Matic's website contains information indicating that it sells the draft beer cleaners to wholesale beer distributors, including eighteen distributors in thirty-two locations in Arizona.

BDP claims that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over it and requests dismissal of the case. (Doc. 16.) In the alternative, BDP asserts that Arizona is an improper venue and requests either dismissal on this ground or a transfer of this case to the United States District Court for the Central District of Florida. ( Id. ) Plaintiffs have filed a Motion to Strike portions of BDP's Reply because it contains information irrelevant to the Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 26.)

DISCUSSION

I. Motion to Strike

Under Local Rule 7.2(m)(1), a party may move to strike portions of a motion if they are "prohibited or not authorized by a statute, rule, or court order." See also Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f) ("The court may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter."). In its Reply, BDP addresses such issues as Plaintiffs' motives for bringing this suit and the ownership interests in 679 held by Plaintiffs and their attorneys. These issues are unrelated to the question of whether the Court possesses personal jurisdiction over BDP. Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike is, therefore, granted and the Court will disregard these portions of the Reply.

II. Motion to Dismiss

A. Personal Jurisdiction

1. Legal Standard

Personal jurisdiction in patent cases is decided under Federal Circuit law, rather than that of the regional circuit in which the case arose. Akro Corp. v. Luker, 45 F.3d 1541, 1543 (Fed. Cir. 1995). A court may assert general jurisdiction over a defendant whose contacts with the forum state are "continuous and systematic, " regardless of whether those contacts form the basis of the complaint. Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 415 (1984). A court lacking general jurisdiction may nevertheless exercise personal jurisdiction over a party if it has "specific jurisdiction" over a party that "deliberately has engaged in significant activities within a state or has created continuing obligations between himself and residents of the forum." Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 475-76 (1985) (internal quotations omitted).

Under Federal Circuit law, a district court can exercise specific jurisdiction over a party that would be subject to the jurisdiction of a court of general jurisdiction in the forum state. Red Wing Shoe Co., Inc. v. Hockerson-Halberstadt, 148 F.3d 1355, 1358 (Fed. Cir. 1998). The Arizona long-arm statute permits state courts to exercise personal jurisdiction "to the maximum extent permitted by this state and the Constitution of the United States." Ariz. R. Civ. P. 4.2. This Court, therefore, has personal jurisdiction over Defendants if the maintenance of this suit "does not offend [the] traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice" embodied in the Due Process Clause. International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940)). Although the burden is on the plaintiff to show that jurisdiction is proper, in the absence of an evidentiary hearing pleadings are construed in the plaintiff's favor and the plaintiff "need only to make a prima facie showing that defendants are subject to personal jurisdiction." Electronics for Imaging Inc. v. Coyle, 340 F.3d 1344, 1349 (Fed. Cir. 2003).

In determining whether exercising specific jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant comports with due process in a patent case, a court evaluates whether "(1) the defendant purposefully directed its activities at residents of the forum state, (2) the claim arises out of or relates to the defendant's activities in the forum state, and (3) assertion of personal jurisdiction is reasonable and fair." Electronics for Imaging, 340 F.3d at 1350. Directly shipping a product to a state qualifies as purposeful direction, and, if that product is the alleged infringing product, the first two prongs of the specific jurisdiction test are met. See Silent Drive, Inc. v. Strong Industries, Inc., 326 F.3d 1194, 1205 (Fed. Cir. 2003) ("Personal jurisdiction over out-of-state defendant existed with respect to a trademark infringement claim when the defendant's products that allegedly infringed plaintiff's trademark had been shipped to forum state from out of state.") (discussing Dakota Indus., Inc. v. Dakota Sportswear, Inc., 946 F.2d 1384, 1391 (8th Cir. 1991)). ...


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