Pavlovich v. Superior Court

29 Cal. 4th 262, 127 Cal. Rptr. 2d 329, 58 P.3d 2 (2002)



When determining whether specific jurisdiction exists, courts consider the relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation. A court may exercise specific jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant only if: (1) the defendant has purposefully availed himself or herself of forum benefits; (2) the controversy is related to or arises out of the defendant's contacts with the forum; and (3) the assertion of personal jurisdiction would comport with fair play and substantial justice. 


Petitioner Matthew Pavlovich is currently a resident of Texas and the president of Media Driver, LLC, a technology consulting company in Texas. During the four years before he moved to Texas, he studied computer engineering at Purdue University in Indiana, where he worked as a systems and network administrator. Pavlovich does not reside or work in California. He has never had a place of business, telephone listing, or bank account in California and has never owned property in California. Neither Pavlovich nor his company has solicited any business in California or has any business contacts in California. A case was filed against him by DVD Copy Control Association, Inc. because he allegedly misappropriated the corporation's trade secrets by posting its program's source code on his Internet Web site. The California Court of Appeal denied his petition for writ of mandate, finding that he purposefully availed himself of forum benefits under the Calder effects test. Pavlovich appealed.


Does the State of California have jurisdiction over a non-resident who allegedly misappropriated the corporation's trade secrets by posting its program's source code on his Internet Web site?




In applying the effects test, the supreme court determined that the evidence in the record failed to show that the resident expressly aimed his tortious conduct at or intentionally targeted California. His sole contact with California was the posting of the source code on his Internet Web site, accessible to any person with Internet access; he owned no property, had no telephone listing, and conducted no business in California. Furthermore, the Web site merely posted information and had no interactive features. Accordingly, the resident's alleged conduct in posting a passive Web site on the Internet was not, by itself, sufficient to subject him to jurisdiction in California. As the resident could not have known that his tortious conduct would hurt the corporation in California when the misappropriated code was first posted, his knowledge of the existence of a licensing entity could not establish express aiming at California. The judgment was reversed and the case was remanded.

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