Mere Accessibility of Internet Website Insufficient to Give Rise to Jurisdiction in A Specific State

Mere Accessibility of Internet Website Insufficient to Give Rise to Jurisdiction in A Specific State

By Michael S. Yang

On or about September 10, 2002, an action was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland against A. Diamond Production, Inc., d/b/a The Futon Shop (“The Futon Shop”), a California corporation, alleging, among other things, breach of contract and copyright infringement. The Complaint was later amended to include allegations of unfair competition. the Futon Shop was represented in this action by Michael S. Yang, Francis J. Gorman, and the firm of Gorman & Williams.

In an unpublished Memorandum opinion dated March 5, 2003, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland (J. Blake) granted The Futon Shop’s Motion to Dismiss on the basis of lack personal jurisdiction. One of the Plaintiff’s principal arguments in favor of jurisdiction in this District was based on the fact that The Futon Shop maintains an internet website which is accessible to Maryland residents. Therefore, as Plaintiff argued, under the “effects test” of Calder v. Jones, an analysis previously adopted by the Court as applicable to the effects if Internet-based conduct, personal jurisdiction is proper because the effects of The Futon Shop’s website may be felt in Maryland. In its analysis on this issue, the Court found that, notwithstanding the fact that The Futon Shop’s website is accessible everywhere, including Maryland, the website is intended to reach an audience in California. Therefore, the Court concluded, personal jurisdiction is not appropriate based on the Calder test. The Court’s decision displays a further refinement of “cyberlaw” in that, even though the Internet is globally accessible, an Internet user may tailor his or her use such that, in legal analysis, that usermay only be subject to jurisdiction where the use is specifically directed towards one geographic locale.