• Dec 3 2018
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  • Category: CAFC Updates

Wok & Pan, Ind., Inc. (“Wok”) filed suit against Staples, a customer of Maxchief Investments Limited (“Maxchief”), in California alleging that Staples’ sale of Maxchief’s UT-18 table infringed certain Wok patents relating to folding tables. Maxchief sought declarations of non-infringement or invalidity of all claims of the Wok patents in Tennessee. Maxchief appeals from the judgment of the District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee dismissing the declaratory judgment action against Wok for lack of personal jurisdiction and dismissing Maxchief’s tortious interference claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The CAFC notes that it is not enough that Wok’s lawsuit might have “effects” in Tennessee but rather, jurisdiction “must be based on intentional conduct by the defendant” directed at the forum. In addition, Wok’s lawsuit against Staples—filed in California against a California resident—was directed at California, not Tennessee and the fact that the requested injunction might apply to a Tennessee resident and non-party to the action (acting in concert with the defendant) is too attenuated a connection to satisfy minimum contacts. The CAFC also holds that merely sending notice letters of patent infringement does not satisfy the “fair play and substantial justice” prong of the personal jurisdiction inquiry, because principles of fair play “afford a patentee sufficient latitude to inform others of its patent rights without subjecting itself to jurisdiction in a foreign forum.” The CAFC further has held that merely sending a notice letter to a lawyer in the forum state does not constitute activity directed at the forum state where the entity alleged to infringe does not operate in the state.  In view of the foregoing, the CAFC concludes that Wok lacked sufficient contacts with the forum state of Tennessee for personal jurisdiction as to both the declaratory judgment claim and the tortious interference claim.  Accordingly, the CAFC affirms the District Court’s dismissal of both claims.

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