District Court Rejects Personal Jurisdiction Over Swedish Parent Corporation

The World in U.S. Courts: Winter 2014 - Personal Jurisdiction

Novelaire Technologies, LLC v. Munters AB, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, November 21, 2013

Munters AB, the Swedish parent corporation of U.S.-based Munters Corporation, moved to dismiss plaintiff Novelaire's patent infringement suit for lack of personal jurisdiction. First, the U.S. district court in New York determined that the requirements for "general" personal jurisdiction—i.e., jurisdiction over any claim because of the substantial contacts between the defendant and the forum—were not satisfied because Munters AB, a holding company, merely managed U.S. companies in Sweden and itself did no business in New York. The court rejected the plaintiff’s arguments that websites maintained by Munters AB that were accessible from New York provided the necessary contacts because the websites were passive, without any interactive features directed at New York. In an unusually detailed analysis, the court also rejected the claim that the U.S. Munters Corporation was so dominated by its parent to be deemed the parent's agent. Second, the court found that Munters AB was not subject to" specific" personal jurisdiction—i.e., jurisdiction based on claims having arisen from specific conduct within the forum. Indeed, the plaintiff had not alleged any specific acts directly related to the patent infringement claims that were undertaken by Munters AB in New York. The plaintiff did allege actions by Munters AB on behalf of a subsidiary, but even those were not sufficient because they involved the purchase of a Virginia corporation. Finally, the court determined that the plaintiff failed to allege the level of control necessary for the actions of a subsidiary to be attributed to a parent corporation.

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