Appellant, Recordon & Recordon (“Recordon”), is a
Brayton Purcell filed suit in the Northern District of California. Recordon alleged that venue was improper, because, as a Southern District law firm, they did not have sufficient minimum contacts to be subject to jurisdiction in the Northern District. The Ninth Circuit has held that venue is proper “in any judicial district in which the defendant would be amendable to personal jurisdiction if the district were a separate state.” Columbia Pictures Television v. Krypton Broad. of Birmingham, Inc., 106 F.3d 284 (9th Cir. 1997).
The Ninth Circuit uses a three-pronged test to evaluate
whether a party has sufficient minimum contacts, but the court found that the
first prong was the only one at issue on appeal. “The non-resident defendant must purposefully
directs his activities or consummate
some transaction with the forum or resident thereof; or perform some act by
which he purposefully avails himself of the privilege of conducting activities
in the forum, thereby invoking the benefits and protections of its law.” Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co.,
374 F.3d 797, 802 (9th Cir. 2004).
The purposeful availment analysis applies to actions in contract,
whereas the purposeful direction analysis applies to actions in tort. In this case, the court applied the
purposeful direction analysis, because the underlying action is a copyright
infringement suit, which is classified as a tort. See
The court applies the Supreme Court’s three-part “Calder-effects”
test to determine whether the defendant purposefully directed its activities to
the forum. The test requires that the
“defendant allegedly must have (1) committed an intentional act, (2) expressly
aimed at the forum state, (3) causing harm that the defendant knows is likely
to be suffered in the forum state.” Calder
v. Jones, 465
The court, in this case, held that Recordon committed an intentional act when it posted infringing material on its website taken directly from the Brayton Purcell website, despite Recordon’s contention that the website was merely passive and informational in nature.
The third element of the “Calder-effects” test requires that the conduct caused harm that the defendant knew was likely to be suffered in the forum. This element is satisfied even if very little harm was actually caused in the forum, as long as the defendant’s acts had “foreseeable effects” in the forum. See Bancroft & Masters, Inc. v. Augusta Nat'l Inc., 223 F.3d 1082, 1087 (9th Cir. 2000). In this case, the court held that this element was satisfied, because it was foreseeable that Brayton Purcell’s business reputation and goodwill would be harmed where it resided in the forum, as well as a possibility of a decrease in business and profits.
Thus, the court held that Recordon satisfied the “purposeful direction” prong to establish specific jurisdiction. As a result, venue was proper in the Northern District of California and the district court’s decision was affirmed.