Bensusan Restaurant Corp. brought an action against King asserting trademark infringement and related claims against King. Bensusan was the creator of the trademark-named “The Blue Note” jazz club in New York City, and alleged that King’s live entertainment cabaret in Columbia, Missouri, also called The Blue Note, infringed on Bensusan’s trademark. The district court dismissed the complaint based on lack of personal jurisdiction.
In diversity or federal question cases, the court must look first to the state’s long arm statute; if jurisdiction exists under the long arm statute, then the court must determine whether jurisdiction may be exercised using a due process analysis.
Bensusan Restaurant Corp. was the creator of a trademark-named jazz club, “The Blue Note,” in New York City. King operated a live entertainment cabaret in Columbia, Missouri, also called The Blue Note. In 1996, King created a website or cyberspot on the internet for its cabaret. (King’s internet site contained a disclaimer disassociating it with The Blue Note in New York City). Bensusan sued King in federal district court in New York, asserting trademark infringement and related claims. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction.
Did the district court lack personal jurisdiction over King?
Yes. Well-established doctrines of personal jurisdiction supported the district court’s decision.
Under New York’s long arm statute, there was no basis for personal jurisdiction. Bensusan failed to allege that King or his agents committed a tortious act in New York; the actions complained of related to the website were performed by persons physically present in New York; a tortious act in the state of New York was not established within the meaning of New York’s long arm statute even if Bensusan suffered injury in New York.