Northern California Record

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Court says Minnesota company failed to prove jurisdiction in trademark infringement case


By Charmaine Little | Apr 26, 2019

SAN DIEGO – The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California recently dismissed a trademark case against PF Brands after it determined that plaintiff Graco Minnesota couldn’t prove the court has jurisdiction in the case.

In an April 17 filing, U.S. District Judge William Q. Hayes dismissed the lawsuit against PF Brands saying, "Court concludes that plaintiff fails to allege facts showing the defendants engaged in conduct expressly aimed at California."

Graco Minnesota, based in Minneapolis, sued PF Brands, David Vincent, Sandra Gallagher Lewis, (a principal and director of PF Brands) and 10 unidentified defendants for allegedly infringing on their federal trademark rights via the Lanham Act, court filings said. In the suit, Graco claimed PF Brands, based in Texas, sold spray foam system products online using Graco's trademarks without permission

Lawyers for Graco issued a cease and desist notice to PF Brands, court filings said, but defendants allegedly continued to use the trademark without permission. Graco then sued for equitable relief and asked the court to freeze the money the defendants made using the trademark. 

PF Brands then filed the motion to dismiss, claiming Graco couldn’t prove jurisdiction, considering the plaintiff is a Minnesota company. PF Brands claimed it was the plaintiff’s responsibility to prove an intentional act that happened in California, proving that California was the “focal point” for the claims and harm the company said it suffered.

“The record does not show that defendants’ business is targeted at a California-specific market industry,” Hayes said in his ruling. ”The record does not show that California is the ‘focal point’ of the infringement claims and the alleged harm in this case.” 

The court added, “Plaintiff’s California research and development center and employees do not establish California contacts attributable to defendants.”

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