Brief Fact Summary. The defendant posted confidential trade information about the one of the plaintiff’s DVD products on his internet website.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A plaintiff asserting a claim based on specific jurisdiction against a non-resident defendant performing no business in the state must point to contacts that demonstrate that the defendant expressly aimed its tortious conduct at the forum state.
Issue. Whether a state court may exercise jurisdiction over a non-resident whose only connection to the state is an internet posting on the World Wide Web.
Held. No. The California Supreme Court ruled that jurisdiction was improper. Courts have identified two ways to establish personal jurisdiction general or specific. When determining whether specific jurisdiction exists, courts consider the relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation. Merely asserting that a defendant knew or should have known that his intentional acts would cause harm in the forum state is not enough to establish jurisdiction. Instead, the plaintiff must also point to contacts that demonstrate that the defendant expressly aimed its tortious conduct at the forum.
Dissent. Baxter, J. dissented. His dissent focused on the fact that by intentionally posting an unlicensed decryption code of DVD Copy’s product on his website, Plaintiff was not merely aiming his conduct at specific persons or companies, but an entire industry. Thus, Judge Baxter felt, because Plaintiff knew that at least two of the industries companies were located in California, his tortuous conduct could be said to be aimed at the forum state.
Discussion. The court only looked to specific jurisdiction because DVD Copy failed to allege any general jurisdiction. In deciding specific jurisdiction lacking, the court relied on its holding that specific jurisdiction requires more than a finding that the harm caused by the defendant’s intentional tort is primarily felt within the forum. Thus, by requiring evidence that the defendant expressly aimed its tortuous conduct at the forum, the court is implicitly holding that jurisdiction over a defendant must be both reasonable and foreseeable so that it does not violate substantial notions of justice and fair play.