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Richard C. Ackourey, Jr. v. andre Lani Custom Clothiers

November 28, 2012

RICHARD C. ACKOUREY, JR.
v.
ANDRE LANI CUSTOM CLOTHIERS, ET AL



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Savage, J.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

In this copyright infringement action, plaintiff, Richard C. Ackourey, Jr. ("Ackourey"), alleges that the defendant Ashok B. Khemlani ("Lani"), who trades under the registered name of Andre Lani Custom Clothiers, wrongfully used Ackourey's copyrighted "artistic drawings and graphic representations" of clothing fashions. He contends Lani reproduced the images and displayed them on websites "established and controlled" by him.

Lani has moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. He argues that he has had no contacts in Pennsylvania to justify the exercise of either general or specific jurisdiction. He contends that his website, which Ackourey relies upon as a basis for personal jurisdiction, is passive and informational, not interactive.

We conclude that Ackourey has not met his burden of establishing personal jurisdiction over Lani. He has failed to show that Lani has sufficient contacts with Pennsylvania that would justify exercising jurisdiction without offending traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. Nor has he proffered any evidence that Lani engaged in any conduct directed at Pennsylvania. Therefore, we shall grant Lani's motion to dismiss.

Factual Background

Ackourey, as the sole member and owner of Graphic Styles/Styles International, LLC ("Graphic Styles"), is the copyright owner of numerous fashion stylebooks. The stylebooks are registered as compilation copyrights and contain drawings of men's and women's fashion clothing styles.

Lani is a tailor of custom clothing who runs his business out of his home in Beaverton, Oregon. His business name, Andre Lani Custom Clothiers, is registered in Oregon. He has no offices, show rooms, or other places of business in Pennsylvania. Nor does he have any employees or agents in Pennsylvania.

Lani takes orders from customers in face-to-face communications for custom-made clothing, fits his customers, and submits measurements and fabric choices to a supplier located in Hong Kong, Noblehouse.us, which places the orders with cutters in Hong Kong. Once the clothing is manufactured, Noblehouse.us ships the finished clothing to the customers. Most of Lani's customers are from the Oregon area. None are in Pennsylvania. He has never traveled to Pennsylvania.

Lani's website, www.andrelanicustomclothiers.com, provides general information about Lani's custom tailoring business, including the types of custom clothing that he provides.*fn1 The website is accessible throughout the United States, including Pennsylvania. Although the website does not allow customers to place orders, or obtain pricing and shipping information, a customer can schedule a fitting by filling out a contact form.*fn2 Lani contends that he has never been contacted by anyone from Pennsylvania from his business website.

As alleged in the complaint, Ackourey published and distributed the Graphic Styles International Stylebook, Best of Seasons through Spring and Summer 2005 ("2005 Stylebook"), which contained 220 images of men's and women's fashion clothing styles. Many of the images were selected from earlier works, including some images published in past stylebooks and registered as compilations under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §103. Lani ordered the 2005 Stylebook from Ackourey.

The following year, Ackourey prepared, published and distributed the Graphic Styles International Stylebook, Best of Seasons 2006 ("2006 Stylebook"), which contained 367 images of men's and women's fashion clothing styles. Again, many of the images were selected from earlier works, including some images published in past stylebooks and registered as compilations under the Copyright Act.

Ackourey alleges that Lani copied images from the 2005 and 2006 stylebooks, and published them on a shared website, Noblehouse.us, and his own website.*fn3 Lani's website displayed approximately thirty-five copyrighted images without attribution to Ackourey or Graphic Styles. Ackourey contends that Lani displayed the copyrighted material to "attract and secure purchasers for the specific men's fashion clothing styles shown in the images . . . [and] to solicit sales and promote [their] business and reputation."*fn4

Consequently, Ackourey contends that Lani is liable under 17 U.S.C. § 501 for copyright infringement for publishing the images on Noblehouse.us and his website.

Standard of Review

Once a defendant challenges personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating facts establishing a basis for the exercise of jurisdiction. D'Jamoos v. Pilatus Aircraft Ltd., 566 F.3d 94, 102 (3d Cir. 2009); O'Connor v. Sandy Lane Hotel Co., Ltd., 496 F.3d 312, 316 (3d Cir. 2007). When the parties do not conduct jurisdictional discovery and there is no evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff need only establish a ...


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