AMA Multimedia, LLC v. Wanat, No. 18-15051 (9th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction of an action alleging copyright infringement, trademark infringement, and unfair competition. Plaintiff AMA is a Nevada limited liability company that produces and distributes "adult entertainment over the Internet." Defendant is a citizen and resident of Poland, who operated ePorner, an adult video website, through MW Media, a Polish civil law partnership.
The panel agreed with the district court that AMA has not met its burden of showing that defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction in the United States under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k)(2) (the long-arm statute). In this case, defendant lacks the requisite minimum contacts with the United States where the United States was not the focal point of the website and of the harm suffered. The panel also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying AMA certain jurisdictional discovery and declined to consider arguments about changes in European law for the first time on appeal that bear on AMA's entitlement to additional jurisdictional discovery.
Court Description: Personal Jurisdiction. The panel affirmed the district court’s dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction of a copyright infringement, trademark infringement, and unfair competition action. Defendant, a citizen and resident of Poland, operated ePorner, an adult video website, through MW Media, a Polish civil law partnership. Plaintiff contended that defendant was subject to specific personal jurisdiction in the United States because he expressly aimed tortious conduct at the forum. Applying Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k)(2), known as the “federal long-arm statute,” the panel held that the exercise of personal jurisdiction would not comport with due process because defendant lacked the requisite minimum contacts with the United States. The panel concluded that defendant committed intentional acts by establishing and maintaining ePorner, registering two domains, and entering into an agreement with an American domain name server, but he did not expressly aim his suit- related conduct at the United States. The panel also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by limiting the scope of plaintiff’s jurisdictional discovery on the basis of privacy concerns. The panel declined to consider, for the first time on appeal, AMA MULTIMEDIA V. WANAT 3 a European Commission decision, known as the “Privacy Shield Decision,” which established that Member States, including Poland, could transfer personal data to certain organizations in the United States. The panel also declined to consider the European Parliament’s enactment of the General Data Protection Regulation, which repealed and replaced Poland’s Personal Data Protection Act after this appeal was filed. Concurring in the majority opinion in full, Judge Ikuta wrote that because the district court lacked personal jurisdiction over defendants, it had authority only to remove the case from its docket. Concurring, Judge R. Nelson wrote that the district court was not precluded from exercising its discretion on remand to consider intervening law in any supplemental request for jurisdictional discovery or amendment of the complaint. Dissenting, Judge Gould wrote that, taking the undisputed facts alleged by plaintiff as true and resolving any factual disputes in its favor, defendant targeted his economic activity toward the United States under the Calder “effects test.” In addition, plaintiff’s claims arose out of or related to defendant’s forum-related activities, and it was reasonable to exercise personal jurisdiction over defendant. Accordingly, Judge Gould would hold that the United States had personal jurisdiction over defendant.