Personal Jurisdiction Over Chinese Defendants That Allegedly Infringed Plaintiff’s Copyrighted Photographs in China Based on Promotion to US Customer of the Plaintiff

The World in U.S. Courts: Fall 2017 - Personal Jurisdiction/Forum Non Conveniens

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Wilspec Technologies, Inc. v. Rugao Isen Electronic Co., Ltd., A/K/A Isen Controls, US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, August 25, 2017

The plaintiff Wilspec Technologies alleged that the defendants, a Chinese company and its principal, unlawfully copied pictures of the plaintiff’s products, apparently in China, and promoted them falsely to customers in the US and elsewhere. Wilspec brought a variety of claims, seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief, and the defendants moved to dismiss. A magistrate judge denied the motion in its entirety, in an opinion that did not reveal many of the facts on which the claims were based.

Among other claims, Wilspec alleged that the defendants reproduced, in China, copyrighted photographs of Wilspec products in violation of the Copyright Act. The magistrate found that the defendants had “purposefully directed their actions at Oklahoma residents and that plaintiff’s claims arise out of these actions,” and on this basis found that the Court could assert specific personal jurisdiction over the defendants. The finding was based on Wilspec’s allegation that the defendants included allegedly infringing copies of Wilspec photographs in promotional materials sent to US recipients, including a Wilspec customer based in Oklahoma.

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