Another Shoe Drops in Washington: Ninth Circuit Expands Personal Jurisdiction over Willful Copyright Infringers

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In Washington Shoe Co. v. A-Z Sporting Goods, Inc. (U.S. Court of Appeals – Ninth Circuit, No. 11-35166, Dec. 17, 2012), the Ninth Circuit expanded the exercise by Federal District Courts of personal jurisdiction over out-of-jurisdiction defendants in federal copyright cases. Building on the Supreme Court’s seminal decision in Int’l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310 (1945), the court explained how an Arkansas shoe retailer that had never done business in the state of Washington could nonetheless be subject to personal jurisdiction in that state.

Plaintiff Washington Shoe Co., a Washington corporation, has been making and selling shoes in the state of Washington for over 100 years. Defendant A-Z Sporting Goods Inc., an Arkansas corporation, runs a single retail store in Alma, Arkansas that sells goods relating to hunting, fishing, and outdoor activities. A-Z does not sell products over the Internet or through an interactive website. For a few years, Washington Shoe sold shoes to A-Z and a Washington Shoe sales representative provided A-Z with brochures and catalogs containing Washington Shoe products and copyright notifications. In 2009, Washington Shoe discovered that A-Z was selling two children’s boots—knockoffs of Washington Shoe’s popular children’s rain boots—that infringed on Washington Shoe’s copyrighted styles. A-Z purchased the infringing boots from China, not from Washington Shoe.

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