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In re Papst Licensing GMBH & Co. KG Litigation

December 11, 2008

IN RE PAPST LICENSING GMBH & CO. KG LITIGATION
THIS DOCUMENT RELATES TO: PAPST
v.
KONICA-MINOLTA PHOTO IMAGING, INC., 08-CV-1433 (D.D.C.)



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rosemary M. Collyer United States District Judge

MDL Docket No. 1880

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Konica Minolta Photo Imaging, Inc. ("KMPI") brought suit in this district against Papst Licensing GMBH & Co. KG ("Papst") seeking a declaratory judgment of noninfringement, invalidity, and unenforceability of two patents owned by Papst. Papst moves to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction because it is a German licensing company that does not do business in Washington, D.C. In the alternative, Papst seeks to transfer the case to Illinois where it has consented to personal jurisdiction. KMPI opposes, claiming that Papst is actually in the business of litigation and that the exercise of personal jurisdiction is proper here. As explained below, while Papst engages in litigation at times to enforce its patents, its business is patent licensing, and it is not subject to personal jurisdiction here. Papst's motion to dismiss will be denied, but its motion to transfer will be granted.

I. FACTS

KMPI filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking a declaratory judgment that it has not infringed two patents owned by Papst, U.S. Patent Nos. 6,470,399 and 6,895,449 (the "Patents in Suit") and that the Patents in Suit are invalid and unenforceable. The case was consolidated with others as part of multidistrict litigation involving Papst's claim that numerous manufacturers of digital cameras have infringed the Patents in Suit.*fn1

Papst is a German company headquartered in St. Georgen, Germany. Papst's Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. # 234], Ex. E ("Kessler Decl.") ¶ 2. Papst does not manufacture or sell any consumer products. As KMPI's Complaint alleges, Papst's "sole business is to acquire and enforce intellectual property rights." Compl. ¶ 4. Papst's contacts with the District of Columbia have been through litigation and patent enforcement matters. Kessler Decl. ¶ 3. Papst has not transacted business in the District that is relevant to this case, has not contracted to supply services here, has not regularly done or solicited business here, and has not derived substantial revenue from goods or services here. Id. ¶¶ 4-8.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

On a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing a factual basis for the court's exercise of personal jurisdiction over the defendant. Murphy v. PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP, 357 F. Supp. 2d 230, 242 (D.D.C. 2004) (citing Crane v. N.Y. Zoological Soc'y, 894 F.2d 454, 456 (D.C. Cir. 1990)). The plaintiff must allege specific acts connecting the defendant with the forum. Second Amendment Found. v. U.S. Conference of Mayors, 274 F.3d 521, 524 (D.C. Cir. 2001). Bare allegations and conclusory statements are insufficient. Id.; see also First Chicago Int'l v. United Exch. Co., 836 F.2d 1375, 1378-79 (D.C. Cir. 1988) (the bare allegation of conspiracy or agency is insufficient to establish personal jurisdiction). In determining whether a factual basis for personal jurisdiction exists, the court should resolve factual discrepancies in favor of the plaintiff. Crane, 894 F.2d at 456. The court need not treat all of the plaintiff's allegations as true, however. United States v. Philip Morris Inc., 116 F. Supp. 2d 116, 120 n.4 (D.D.C. 2000). Instead, the court "may receive and weigh affidavits and any other relevant matter to assist it in determining the jurisdictional facts." Id.

III. ANALYSIS

In multidistrict litigation such as this, a court must apply the law of the forum where the case was filed to determine personal jurisdiction. In re Sterling Foster & Co., Inc. Sec. Litig., 222 F. Supp. 2d 289, 300 (E.D.N.Y. 2002); see also In re Vitamins Antitrust Litig., 270 F. Supp. 2d 15, 33-35 (D.D.C. 2003) (applying the long arm statute of the transferor forum in multidistrict litigation). And in patent infringement cases, personal jurisdiction is governed by the law of the Federal Circuit. Beverly Hills Fin. Co. v. Royal Sovereign Co., 21 F.3d 1558, 1564-65 (Fed. Cir. 1994). To establish personal jurisdiction over a non-resident, a court must undertake a two-step inquiry: it must first determine whether jurisdiction exists under the applicable state's long-arm statute and then determine whether a finding of jurisdiction satisfies due process. See id. at 1566-70.

Because this case was originally filed in the District of Columbia, the D.C. long-arm statute applies. The law authorizes the exercise of personal jurisdiction based on a defendant's conduct in, or directed toward, the District of Columbia. The statute provides that personal jurisdiction exists over a person as to a claim for relief arising from the person's

(1) transacting any business in the District of Columbia; (2) contracting to supply services in the District of Columbia; (3) causing tortious injury in the District of Columbia by an act or omission in the District of Columbia; (4) causing tortious injury in the District of Columbia by an act or omission outside the District of Columbia if he regularly does or solicits business, engages in any other persistent course of conduct, or derives substantial revenue from goods used or consumed, or services rendered, in the District of Columbia.

D.C. Code § 13-423(a). Subsection (b) qualifies the reach of the statute by noting that "[w]hen jurisdiction over a person is based solely upon this section, only a claim for relief arising from acts enumerated in this section may be asserted against him." Id. § 13-423(b). The D.C. long arm statute is coextensive with the limits of due process, Helmer v. Doletskaya, 393 F.3d 201, 205 (D.C. Cir. 2004), and so "the statutory and constitutional jurisdictional questions, which are usually distinct, merge into a single inquiry." United States v. Ferrara, 54 F.3d 825, 828 (D.C. Cir. 1995). Accordingly, the Court must determine whether the exercise of jurisdiction over Papst comports with the requirements of due process.

The Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires the plaintiff to demonstrate that the defendant has "purposely established minimum contacts with the forum State," Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 476 (1985), "such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). These minimum contacts must be grounded in "some act by which the defendant purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities with the forum State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws." Burger King, 471 U.S. at 476. In short, "the defendant's conduct and connection with the forum State [must be] such that he should ...


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