Server Insufficient For Jurisdiction

Author:Mr Todd Fisher
Profession:Hughes & Luce LLP

A New Jersey court has held that, where a defendant's only connection to the State is the location of a "host server" that channels the flow of information, it is unreasonable for a defendant to have foreseen being haled into court in New Jersey. Amberson Holdings, LLC v. Westside Story Newspaper, 110 F.Supp.2d 332, 337 (D.C. N.J. 2000).

Plaintiff sued defendants, based in California, for copyright infringement. Defendants outsourced the operation of their Website, "," to a host server owned and operated by a New Jersey corporation. Plaintiff argued that the court had jurisdiction over defendants because defendants (1) maintained a contractual relationship with a New Jersey company that provides "hosting services" for defendants' Website on its Internet servers in New Jersey; (2) on at least two occasions represented to Network Solutions, Inc. that the data making up defendants' Website is physically located on servers belonging to a New Jersey corporation and operated and maintained in New Jersey; (3) on those same two occasions, affirmatively instructed Network Solutions, Inc. to arrange for all Internet requests for access to defendants' Website be directed to Internet servers physically located in New Jersey; (4) continuously communicated and interacted with visitors to their Website via Internet servers physically located in New Jersey; and (5) regularly transmitted electronic files into New Jersey for storage and operation on Internet servers located in New Jersey for the purpose of establishing and updating their Website and conducting business over the Internet using plaintiffs' trademark.

Defendants, on the other hand, pointed out that they should not be subject to personal jurisdiction in New Jersey because they never engaged in any of the following activities in New Jersey: (1) manufacture of any product; (2) any direct sales; (3) solicitation or advertisement to sell its product; (4) any shipment of merchandise directly into or through the state, or supply of services there; (5) the maintenance of an office; (6) the ownership of any real or personal property; (7) the employment of any employees or agents; or (8) the requirement of or payment of taxes.

The court first pointed out that access to a Website reflects nothing more than a telephone call by a district resident to the defendants' computer servers. The court then looked beyond "traditional tools utilized in a personal jurisdiction determination for...

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