United States District Court, N.D. California, San Francisco Division
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO SERVE DEFENDANTS LI ZHE AND ZHOU MING BY EMAIL [Re ECF No. 11]
LAUREL BEELER, Magistrate Judge.
On December 30, 2014, Plaintiff Goes International, AB ("Goes Intl.") filed a complaint against Defendants Dodur Ltd., a Chinese game development company, and its former employees Li Zhe and Zhou Ming for copyright infringement under 17 U.S.C. §§ 106 et seq and 501. (Complaint, ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff now moves for leave to serve Defendants Li Zhe and Zhou Ming by email. (Motion, ECF No. 11.) Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the court finds this matter suitable for determination without oral argument and vacates the May 7, 2015 hearing date. Upon consideration of Goes Intl.'s motion, the declarations and evidence filed in support of it, and the applicable authority, the court GRANTS the motion and allows Goes Intl. to serve Li Zhe and Zhou Ming by email.
I. GOES INTL.'S ALLEGATIONS
Plaintiff Goes Intl. is a Swedish company and designer of the video game Bubble Bust!, for which it holds two copyrights. (Complaint, ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 1, 2, 5, 7, 8.) Bubble Bust! has been distributed in the United States through Google Play and the Apple App Store since at least January, 2011. ( Id. ¶¶ 2, 9.) In January, 2012, Puzzle Bubble Free! was made available via multiple websites including the Apple App Store, which listed the game's developer as Defendant Dodur Ltd. ( Id. ¶ 11.) In March, 2012, another game, Puzzle Bubble Sea, was also made available via the multiple websites, again including the Apple App Store. ( Id. ¶ 12.) The App Store listed Defendant Li Zhe as the game's developer, though this listing was later changed to identify Defendant Zhou Ming as the developer. ( Id. ¶ 12.)
Goes Intl. contends that both games are copied almost entirely from its own copyrighted Bubble Bust! ( Id. ¶¶ 11, 12.) Goes Intl. asserts that it was able to have the allegedly infringing games removed from the Apple App Store, but that the games remain available on other sites. ( Id. ¶ 18.) Goes Intl. further asserts that by publishing and selling these games, Defendants have "engaged in unfair trade practices and unfair competition against Plaintiff to Plaintiff's irreparable damage, " and that "have reaped millions of dollars in profits" through its infringement of Goes Intl.'s copyright. ( Id. ¶ 16, 17, 20.)
II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On December 30, 2014, Goes Intl. filed a complaint against Dodur Litd., Li Zhe, and Zhou Ming for copyright infringement. ( See Id. ) Goes Intl. had the Summons, Complaint, and Order of the Court translated into Mandarin Chinese and, on January 21, 2015, sent these documents to the contact information it had for each Defendant. (Motion, ECF No. 11 at 3.) Goes Intl. therein asked that Defendants agree to accept service via mail or email. ( Id. at 4.) Defendant Li Zhe responded by email and stated that he had quit from Dodur as of 2013, but did not mention anything about any potential acceptance of service. ( Id. )
On February 10, 2015, Goes Intl. again asked that Defendants accept service via email. ( Id. ) Li Zhe responded by email that Defendants would only accept service by mail, pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters ("Hague Convention"). ( Id. ) On February 27, 2015, Goes Intl. asked that the defendants provide their physical addresses for service. ( Id. ) Li Zhe responded by email, but did not provide his physical address. ( Id. ) On March 9, 2015, Goes Intl. again asked that Defendants provide their physical addresses. ( Id. ) Li Zhe again responded by email, but again did not provide his physical address. ( Id. )
On March 19, 2015, and again on March 27, 2015, counsel for Goes Intl. spoke to the COO of Dodur, who explained that Li Zhe and Zhou Ming no longer work for Dodur. ( Id. ) The Dodur COO also stated that he did not have the physical addresses for Li Zhe or Zhou Ming, but he did provide an email address for Zhou Ming. ( Id. at 5.)
I. LEGAL STANDARD
In its motion, Goes Intl. asks the court to permit it to serve Li Zhe and Zhou Ming, who appear to be located in China, by e-mail. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(f) authorizes service of process on an ...