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Vanity.Com, Inc v. Vanity Shop of Grand Forks

October 4, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Susan Illston United States District Judge


On September 21, 2012, the Court heard argument on the motion by defendant Vanity Shop of Grand Forks, Inc. to dismiss plaintiff, Inc.'s first amended complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction, or in the alternative, to transfer venue to the District of Arizona. Having considered the arguments of counsel and the pleadings and papers on file, and for good cause shown, the Court DENIES the motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and GRANTS the motion to transfer venue to the District of Arizona.


On June 5, 2012, plaintiff, Inc. ("") filed this suit against defendant Vanity Shop of Grand Forks, Inc. ("Vanity Shop") seeking declaratory judgment on the following issues: (1) that plaintiff did not infringe defendant's trademark; (2) that plaintiff did not engage in unfair competition; (3) that plaintiff did not violate the Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act; and (4) that plaintiff is the rightful holder of the "" domain name. See First Amended Complaint ("FAC"). Plaintiff also claims reverse domain name hijacking per 15 U.S.C. § 1114(2)(D)(v), common law unfair competition, and unfair competition per Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200. Id.

In 1995, plaintiff registered the domain name "" with, LLC (""), Rodenbaugh Decl.*fn1 Ex. A. Plaintiff also owns a federal trademark registration for the trademark, which it uses in connection with "on-line journals, namely blogs featuring cosmetic procedures and surgery related content," FAC ¶ 6, but apparently does not offer goods or services for sale on the site. Tease Decl. Ex. A. Vanity Shop is a privately owned specialty retailer of women's and girls' apparel, with retail stores and a website from which it advertises and sells apparel. Motschenbacher Decl. ¶ 2-3, 11. It registered "" and "" with in 1998 and 2004, respectively. Rodenbaugh Decl. Ex. A. is a registrar with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ("ICANN").Tease Decl. Ex. B. All ICANN registrants must comply with the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("UDRP"), a private contract that outlines domain name dispute procedures. Rodenbaugh Decl. Ex. G. On May 10, 2012, Vanity Shop, the defendant here, filed a complaint with the National Arbitration Forum ("NAF") in accordance with UDRP paragraph 4(a), alleging misuse of the domain name by Id. at Ex. F.*fn2 On June 5, 2012, before the NAF issued its decision, filed the instant complaint in this district, seeking inter alia, declaratory judgment on similar misuse claims. Compl. ¶ 31-48. On June 20, 2012, the NAF granted judgment for Vanity Shop and ordered the transfer of the domain name to defendant. Tease Decl. Ex. B.

On July 3, 2012 filed another suit, this one in the District of Arizona, seeking declaratory relief, common law unfair competition, unfair competition under Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200, and injunctive relief under 15 U.S.C. § 1114(2)(D)(v). See, Inc. v. Vanity Shop of Grand Forks, Inc., Case no. 2:12-cv-01446-JAT, (D. Ariz., July 3, 2012), Pl.'s Compl., ECF No. 1.*fn3

On August 2, 2012, Vanity Shop filed a motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2), seeking dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction, or alternatively transfer of venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) to the District of Arizona. Notice of Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss ¶ 1-3. Vanity Shop argues that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction because Vanity Shop does not have, and never has had, any stores, physical facilities, employees, or bank accounts located in California, nor is it registered to do business there. Id.; Motschenbacher Decl. ¶ 4-9. Vanity Shop also argues alternatively that the case should be transferred to the District of Arizona because the parties consented to venue there, for convenience, and because of the pending Arizona action. Mot. to Dismiss at 3-4, 11-12.


1. Personal Jurisdiction

Personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant may exist if the defendant has either a continuous and systematic presence in the state (general jurisdiction), or minimum contacts with the forum state such that the exercise of jurisdiction "does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice" (specific jurisdiction). Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (citation omitted). Where there is no federal statute applicable to determine personal jurisdiction, a district court should apply the law of the state where the court sits. See Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797, 800 (9th Cir. 2004). California law requires only that the exercise of personal jurisdiction comply with federal due process requirements. See id. at 800-01.

"A defendant whose contacts with a state are 'substantial' or 'continuous and systematic' can be haled into court in that state in any action, even if the action is unrelated to those contacts." Bancroft & Masters, Inc. v. Augusta Nat'l, Inc., 223 F.3d 1082, 1087 (9th Cir. 2000) (citing Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 415 (1984)). "This is known as general jurisdiction. The standard for establishing general jurisdiction is fairly high and requires that the defendant's contacts be of the sort that approximate physical presence." Id. (citations omitted). "Factors to be taken into consideration are whether the defendant makes sales, solicits or engages in business in the state, serves the state's markets, designates an agent for service of process, holds a license, or is incorporated there." Id.

In order for a court to exert specific jurisdiction in accordance with due process, a nonresident defendant must have "'minimum contacts' with the forum state such that the assertion of jurisdiction 'does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'" Pebble Beach Co. v. Caddy, 453 F.3d 1151, 1155 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Int'l Shoe, 326 U.S. at 315). The Ninth Circuit employs a three-part test to determine whether the defendant has such minimum contacts with a forum state. First, the "nonresident defendant must do some act or consummate some transaction with the forum or perform some act by which he purposefully avails himself of the privilege of conducting activities in the forum," thereby invoking the benefits and protections of the forum state. Cybersell, Inc. v. Cybersell, Inc., 130 F.3d 414, 418 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ballard v. Savage, 65 F.3d 1495, 1498 (9th Cir. 1998)). Second, the claim must "arise[] out of or result[] from the defendant's forum-related activities," and third, the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the defendant must be reasonable. Pebble Beach Co., 453 F.3d at 1155. The plaintiff bears the burden of proving the first two conditions. Boschetto v. Hansing, 539 F.3d 1011, 1016 (9th Cir. 2008). If the plaintiff carries this burden, "the defendant must come forward with a 'compelling case' that the exercise of jurisdiction would not be reasonable." Id. (citing Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 802).

If a district court acts on the defendant's motion to dismiss without holding an evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff "need only demonstrate facts that if true would support jurisdiction over the defendant." Id. at 1129 (citation omitted). Unless directly contravened, the plaintiff's version of the facts is taken as true, and conflicts between the facts contained in the parties' affidavits must be resolved in the plaintiff's favor for purposes of deciding ...

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