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Guidecraft, Inc. v. Ojcommerce, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

May 20, 2019

GUIDECRAFT, INC., Plaintiff,

          Joy Flowers Conti, District Judge


          Lisa Pupo Lenihan, U.S. Magistrate Judge


         It is respectfully recommended that the Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 30) filed by Defendants OJCommerce, LLC,, Inc. and Naomi Home, Inc., be granted on the basis of lack of personal jurisdiction, and the Complaint be dismissed without prejudice. It is further recommended that the Motion to Transfer Venue be dismissed without prejudice.

         II. REPORT

         A. Factual Background & Procedural History

         Plaintiff Guidecraft, Inc. (“Plaintiff”) is a manufacturer of children's toys and furniture. Amended Compl. at ¶ 10 (ECF No. 26). Plaintiff is a New York Corporation with its place of business in Winthrop, Minnesota, and “since 1966 has been engaged in designing, manufacturing, marketing, and selling [their products] in this Judicial District and elsewhere, principally through resellers and internet sales.” Id. at ¶¶ 1, 10.

         Defendants OJCommerce, LLC,, Inc., and Naomi Home, Inc. (collectively, “Defendants”) are Delaware corporations owned, operated, and controlled by the same individual, with their principal place of business in Miramar, Florida.[1] Id. at ¶¶ 2-4, 6. From 2012 to 2018, Defendants were resellers of three of Plaintiff's products: its KITCHEN HELPER® line of children's stools, its Step-Up children's stools, and its High-Rise Step-Up children's stools. Id. at ¶¶ 29, 30.

         Plaintiff alleges that it terminated Defendants as its resellers for violations of Plaintiff's MAPP pricing policies. Id. at ¶ 34. Plaintiff alleges that after being terminated as its resellers, Defendants began to develop, market and sell infringing versions of these products “throughout the United States and within this Judicial District.” Id. at ¶ 35. Plaintiff alleges that the sale of these stools is being done “on the Internet through Defendant's interactive website, which provides a link that consumers click on to purchase the infringing products, as well as through online retailer Amazon.” Id. at ¶ 36-38.

         Plaintiff filed the Amended Complaint on December 11, 2018. (ECF No. 26). Plaintiff asserts counts under the Lanham Act of Trademark Infringement, Unfair Competition and False Designation of Origin, and Trade Dress Infringement. Amended Compl. at ¶¶ 71-96 (ECF No. 26). In addition, Plaintiff asserts counts of Copyright Infringement, Common Law Unfair Competition, Tortious Interference with Business Relations, Unjust Enrichment, and violation of Pennsylvania's Trademark Dilution Law. Id. at ¶¶ 97-123. On January 15, 2019, Defendants filed joint Motions to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), 12(b)(3), and 12(b)(6), and a Motion to Transfer Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). (ECF No. 30). With the filing of Plaintiff's Briefs in Opposition (ECF Nos. 34, 35), this Motion is now ripe for disposition.

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court respectfully recommends that the Motion to Dismiss be granted as to all Defendants for lack of personal jurisdiction.

         B. Standard of Review

          The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit summarized the standard to be applied in deciding motions to dismiss filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6):

Under the “notice pleading” standard embodied in Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a plaintiff must come forward with “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” As explicated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009), a claimant must state a “plausible” claim for relief, and “[a] claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Although “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), a plaintiff “need only put forth allegations that raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element.” Fowler, 578 F.3d at 213 (quotation marks and citations omitted); see also Covington v. Int'l Ass'n of Approved Basketball Officials, 710 F.3d 114, 117-18 (3d Cir. 2013).

Thompson v. Real Estate Mortg. Network, 748 F.3d 142, 147 (3d Cir. 2014).

         In responding to a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, facts sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction over the defendants, by producing affidavits or other competent evidence. Metcalfe v. Renaissance Marine, Inc., 566 F.3d 324, 330 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Pinker v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 368 (3d Cir. 2002); DayhoffInc. v. H.J. Heinz Co., 86 F.3d 1287, 1302 (3d Cir. 1996)); see also Time Share Vacation Club v. Atlantic Resorts, Ltd., 735 F.2d 61, 66 n.9 (3d Cir. 1984). Where, as here, an evidentiary hearing is not held on the 12(b)(2) motion, the plaintiff need only demonstrate a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction. Metcalfe, 566 F.3d at 330 (citing O'Connor v. Sandy Lane Hotel Co., 496 F.3d 312, 316 (3d Cir. 2007)); D'Jamoos v. Pilatus Aircraft Ltd., 566 F.3d 94, 102 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Miller Yacht Sales, Inc. v. Smith, 384 F.3d 93, 97 (3d Cir. 2004)). A plaintiff “presents a prima facie case for the exercise of personal jurisdiction by ‘establishing with reasonable particularity sufficient contacts between the defendant and the forum state.'” Mellon Bank (East) PSFS, Nat'l Ass'n v. Farino, 960 F.2d 1217, 1221 (3d Cir. 1992) (quoting Provident Nat'l Bank v. Cal. Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 819 F.2d 434, 437 (3d Cir. 1987)) (other citation omitted). In deciding a Rule 12(b)(2) motion, although the court must accept the plaintiff's allegations as true and resolves all doubts in its favor, D'Jamoos, 566 F.3d at 102 (citing Miller Yacht Sales, supra), plaintiff may not rest solely on the pleadings to satisfy its burden of proof. See Pinker, 292 F.3d at 368; Carteret Sav. Bank, 954 F.2d at 146. Rather, the plaintiff must present evidence that demonstrates a prima facie case for the ...

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