Has Jurisdiction Been Taken for Granted

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Will the US Supreme Court’s decision in Daimler A.G. v. Bauman affect where a plaintiff can sue a defendant for trademark infringement? In general, plaintiff’s prefer to sue defendants in their backyard. Specific jurisdiction could be based on a defendant’s “minimum contacts” with a state so long as the claim asserted relates to those activities and even though the defendant lacked a physical presence in the state. General jurisdiction was not based on minimum contacts and only existed when a foreign company’s continuous corporate operations within a state are so substantial and of such a nature as to justify suit against it on causes of action arising from dealings entirely distinct from those activities.

The Court’s decision in Daimler changed the standard for general jurisdiction, which now requires that the defendant’s operations within a state make it “at home” in the state. What level of operations make a defendant “at home” will be determined in the courts in subsequent years. However, one territory is certain, a defendant is “at home” in its state of incorporation.

Because of the territorial rule in Dawn Donut, general jurisdiction generally does not apply to a trademark infringement case. However, whether courts will look to the heightened standard in general jurisdiction when deciding specific jurisdiction remains to be seen. Jurisdiction used to be an issue that was taken for granted. After the Daimler decision, it is an issue that needs to be explored in detail when conducting any litigation planning.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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