Brothers and Sisters in Christ v. Zazzle, Inc., No. 21-1917 (8th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, LLC (BASIC) allege that Zazzle, Inc. sold a t-shirt that infringed on BASIC’s federal trademark. The district court granted Zazzle’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that BASIC bears the burden of establishing a prima facie showing of jurisdiction. Further, where the applicable federal statute, here the Lanham Act, does not authorize nationwide personal jurisdiction the existence of personal jurisdiction depends on the long-arm statute of the forum state and the federal Due Process Clause.
Here, the court looked to Zazzle’s contacts with Missouri related to BASIC’s claims. Aside from the single t-shirt sale, BASIC fails to allege a connection between Zazzle’s other contacts with Missouri and the underlying suit. BASIC does not allege that Zazzle’s other activities in Missouri involved trademark infringement or that Zazzle sold additional trademark-infringing goods into the state. Further, BASIC has not alleged that Zazzle took such purposeful, targeted action toward Missouri or Missouri consumers. Although Missouri has an interest in this litigation because the allegedly injured plaintiff is a Missouri company, the convenience of the parties is neutral, as Zazzle would be inconvenienced by litigation in Missouri and BASIC would likely be inconvenienced in an alternate forum. In sum, BASIC has failed to allege that Zazzle could reasonably anticipate being haled into court in Missouri.
Court Description: [Kelly, Author, with Smith, Chief Judge, and Benton, Circuit Judge] Civil case - Trademarks. The Lanham Act does not authorize nationwide personal jurisdiction, so the existence of personal jurisdiction in this case depends on Missouri's long-arm statute and the federal Due Process Clause; under Missouri law, plaintiff sufficiently alleged that defendant had transacted business in the state and had committed a tortious act within the state, thereby satisfying Missouri's long-arm statute; turning to the due process analysis, defendant's contact with Missouri was limited to a single t-shirt sale and this was not a sufficient basis on which to exercise personal jurisdiction, as defendant could not reasonably anticipate being haled into court in Missouri based on a single sale; the dismissal of the suit is affirmed.