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Kyocera Communications, Inc. v. Potter Voice Technologies, LLC

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

June 5, 2013

KYOCERA COMMUNICATIONS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
POTTER VOICE TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, Defendant.

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION

MARILYN L. HUFF, District Judge.

On April 29, 2013, Defendant Potter Voice Technologies, LLC ("Defendant" or "Potter") filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. (Doc. No. 10.) On May 24, 2013, Plaintiff Kyocera Communications, Inc. ("Plaintiff" or "KCI") filed its opposition to the motion. (Doc. No. 11.) On June 3, 2013, Defendant filed a reply in support of the motion. (Doc. No. 13.)

Pursuant to its discretion under Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1), the Court concludes this matter is appropriate for resolution without oral argument and vacates the hearing set for June 10, 2013. For the following reasons, the Court denies Defendant's motion to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction.

Background

This is an action for declaratory judgment. Plaintiff KCI is a corporation incorporated under the laws of Delaware with its principal place of business in San Diego, California. (Doc. No. 1 ("Complaint") ¶ 1.) KCI is the sales, marketing and service headquarters for Kyocera-branded and Sanyo-branded wireless products and accessories in the Americas, and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kyocera International, Inc. ("Kyocera International"). (Id. ¶ 2.) Among other products, KCI has sold the Kyocera Echo smartphone. (Id. ¶ 9.)

Defendant Potter is a limited liability company organized and existing under the laws of the State of Colorado with its principal place of business in Colorado. (Id. ¶ 3.) Defendant Potter is the owner of U.S. Patent No. 7, 729, 659 ("the 659 Patent"). (Complaint ¶ 4.) On November 5, 2012, Potter filed a Fourth Amended Complaint in a case in the District of Colorado, Potter Voice Technologies LLC v. Google Inc., et al., Case No. 1:12-CV-01096-REB-CBS (the "Colorado action"). (Id. ¶ 9.) In the Colorado action, Potter alleges infringement of the 659 Patent against several defendants, including Plaintiff's parent company, Kyocera International. (Id.¶¶ 5-6, 8-10.) Potter specifically accuses Kyocera International of infringing the Kyocera Echo smartphone, a product sold by KCI. (Id. ¶ 9.)

On March 29, 2013, Plaintiff filed the present action for declaratory judgment of non-infringement and invalidity of the 659 Patent. (See generally id.) Plaintiff's declaratory judgment suit is based on the Colorado action and Plaintiff's allegation that Defendant has asserted infringement against KCI, allegedly creating an actual and justiciable controversy between the parties. (Id. ¶¶ 5-6, 8-10, 17, 21.) On April 29, 2013, Defendant filed this motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. (Doc. No. 10.)

Discussion

I. Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

A. Legal Standards on Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

A defendant may move to dismiss a complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). In a patent case, the law of the Federal Circuit applies to the determination whether the district court can properly exercise personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state accused defendant. Nuance Commc'ns., Inc. v. Abbyy Software House , 626 F.3d 1222, 1230 (Fed. Cir. 2010). Federal Circuit law applies equally in declaratory judgment actions where the patentee is the defendant. Elecs. for Imaging, Inc., v. Coyle , 340 F.3d 1344, 1349 (Fed. Cir. 2003). "Personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant is appropriate if the relevant state's long-arm statute permits the assertion of jurisdiction without violating federal due process." 3D Sys., Inc. v. Aarotech Labs., Inc. , 160 F.3d 1373, 1376-77 (Fed. Cir. 1998). "Because California's long-arm statute is co-extensive with federal due process requirements, the jurisdictional analyses under California law and federal law are the same." Nuance, 626 F.3d at 1230.

Under federal law, "due process requires only that in order to subject a defendant to a judgment in personam, if he be not present within the territory of the forum, he have certain minimum contacts with it such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington , 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (internal quotation marks omitted). There are two types of personal jurisdiction a court may have over a defendant: general and specific. See Avocent Huntsville Corp. v. Aten Int'l Co. , 552 F.3d 1324, 1330 (Fed. Cir. 2008). General jurisdiction "requires that the defendant have continuous and systematic' contacts with the forum state, " and that such activity "confers personal jurisdiction even when the cause of action has no relationship with those contacts." Silent Drive, Inc. v. Strong Indus., Inc. , 326 F.3d 1194, 1200 (Fed. Cir. 2003) (citing Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall , 466 U.S. 414-16 (1984)).

"To establish specific jurisdiction, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant has purposefully directed his activities at residents of the forum, and the litigation results from alleged injuries that arise out of or relate to those activities." Avocent , 552 F.3d at 1330 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Specifically, the Federal Circuit employs a three-prong test, in which the court must determine whether:

(1) the defendant purposefully directed its activities at residents of the forum, (2) the claim arises out of or relates to those activities, and (3) assertion of personal jurisdiction is reasonable and fair. With respect to the last prong, the burden of proof is on the defendant, which must "present a compelling case that the presence of some other considerations would render ...

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