Interactive Website Not Enough to Make Venue Proper If There Is No Evidence of Sales, Directed Advertising

Author: Eleanor B. Atkins

A California district court held that venue is not proper in a trademark case when there is no evidence a defendant has sold products or directed advertising to consumers in that district, despite having an interactive website capable of selling to consumers throughout the United States.

In Kaia Foods, Inc. v. Bellafiore (No. 3:14-cv-01708-JCS), the District Court for the Northern District of California granted defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of venue and transferred the case to the Central District of California. Defendant Bellafiore filed a declaration stating that she had neither sold the allegedly infringing products to any consumers located in northern California, nor directed advertising to consumers located in that region. All of Bellafiore’s sales had been made online or in person and were largely to consumers located in Los Angeles or Palm Springs.

Plaintiff argued that venue was proper in the Northern District of California because consumer confusion was likely to occur in that district and consumers in that district would be harmed. Given that defendant had made no sales or directed advertising to consumers in the Northern District, however, the court held there was no opportunity for a likelihood of confusion to arise.

Relying on Jamba Juice Co. v. Jamba Group, Inc., 2002 WL 1034040 (N.D. Cal. May 15, 2002), the court explained that allowing venue based merely on a website and potential harm to the plaintiff in that district “’would be to adopt a rule that would subject any corporation with a website to venue in the district in which plaintiff does business. Such a rule . . . would dramatically alter the present venue statute.’”

 

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