Law School Case Brief
uBID, Inc. v. GoDaddy Grp., Inc. - 623 F.3d 421 (7th Cir. 2010)
Personal jurisdiction can be either general or specific, depending on the extent of a defendant's contacts with the forum state. If the defendant's contacts are so extensive that it is subject to general personal jurisdiction, then it can be sued in the forum state for any cause of action arising in any place. More limited contacts may subject the defendant only to specific personal jurisdiction, in which case the plaintiff must show that its claims against the defendant arise out of the defendant's constitutionally sufficient contacts with the state. In either case, the ultimate constitutional standard is whether the defendant had certain minimum contacts with the forum such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.
Plaintiff uBID, Inc. is a Chicago-based company that auctioned the excess inventory of manufacturers and retailers over the Internet. It brought suit in Illinois against The GoDaddy Group, Inc., which operated the well-known domain name registration site GoDaddy.com. In its complaint, uBID alleged that GoDaddy violated the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act by intentionally registering domain names that are confusingly similar to uBID's trademarks and domain names for the purpose of profiting from uBID's marks and exploiting web surfers' confusion by selling advertising for those confusingly similar websites. The district court dismissed the case for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding that GoDaddy, which is headquartered in Arizona, lacked sufficient contacts with Illinois to be sued there. The case was appealed.
Did the Illinois court have personal jurisdiction over GoDaddy?
The Court held that although it concluded that the site was not subject to general jurisdiction in Illinois; however, because the site had continuously and deliberately exploited the Illinois market for domain name registration and had profited from it, the site was subject to specific jurisdiction in Illinois under its long-arm statute. The Court explained that although the site restricted its physical presence to Arizona: its computer servers were located there, it was incorporated in Arizona, and the majority of its offices and employees were located in Arizona, the site's virtual presence included the entire U.S., particularly due to national television advertisements aired during Super Bowl broadcasts, sports stars' endorsements, and sporting arena billboards. Its contacts with Illinois were extensive. It had hundreds of thousands of customers in the state and earned millions of dollars in revenue from the state each year. Illinois residents encountered the site's advertisements on television, the Internet, and on sporting arena billboards. Further, based on its extensive activities in the state, the Court noted that there was no unfairness in requiring the site to defend a suit in Illinois. Thus, the court reversed the district court's judgment dismissing the suit for lack of personal jurisdiction and remanded the case for further proceedings on the company's claims.
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