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True Fitness Technology, Inc. v. Samsara Fitness, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

June 18, 2015

TRUE FITNESS TECHNOLOGY, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
SAMSARA FITNESS, LLC, Defendant.

OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

HENRY EDWARD AUTREY, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction. [Doc. No. 12]. Plaintiff has filed a Response in opposition to the Motion. [Doc. No. 17]. Defendant has filed a Reply [Doc. No. 18], Plaintiff has filed a Sur-Reply [Doc. No. 21], and Defendant has filed a Sur-Sur Reply [Doc. No. 24]. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion is granted.

Facts and Background[1]

Plaintiff True Fitness Technology, Inc. ("Plaintiff") brings this action against Defendant Samsara Fitness LLC ("Defendant") under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1051 et seq., alleging trademark infringement and unfair competition. Plaintiff also alleges a violation of Missouri trademark law.

Plaintiff, a Missouri corporation with its principal place of business in Missouri, manufactures, sells, and services high quality exercise equipment, including treadmills. Since 1983, Plaintiff has used the trademark, TRUE®, to brand its products, and the mark has been federally registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for use with treadmills since 1987 and for use with exercise equipment generally since 2005.

Defendant, a limited liability corporation organized under the laws of Connecticut with its principal place of business in Connecticut, operates an e-commerce site under the domain name http://www.samsarafitness.com. On the website, Defendant advertises and offers treadmills for sale using the mark "TRUE, " including a model named the TrueForm Runner. Defendant is not an authorized dealer of True Fitness treadmills, nor a licensee of Plaintiff's trademarks. Plaintiff alleges that "Defendant, through its website and communications with potential customers, is using Plaintiff's TRUE Marks in connection with the sale, offering for sale, distribution, and advertising of treadmills." [Doc. No. 1 at ¶ 15].

Plaintiff alleges that "[t]his Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendant because Defendant sold the infringing product in this district, Defendant conducts business in the State of Missouri through its e-commerce site, http://www.samsarafitness.com, and has engaged in acts or omissions within this District causing injury within this District, or has otherwise made or established contacts with this District sufficient to permit the exercise of personal jurisdiction over Defendant." [ Id. at ¶ 4].

Legal Standard

A defendant may move to dismiss a case under Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules for "lack of personal jurisdiction." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2).

A plaintiff alleging personal jurisdiction "must state sufficient facts in the complaint to support a reasonable inference that the defendant[] can be subjected to jurisdiction within the state.'" Dairy Farmers of Am., Inc. v. Bassett & Walker Int'l, Inc., 702 F.3d 472, 474 (8th Cir. 2012) (alteration in original) (quoting Wells Dairy, Inc. v. Food Movers Int'l, Inc., 607 F.3d 515, 518 (8th Cir. 2010)). "If the defendant controverts or denies jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving facts supporting personal jurisdiction." Wells Dairy, 607 F.3d at 518. Personal jurisdiction "must be tested, not by the pleadings alone, but by the affidavits and exhibits presented with the motions and in opposition thereto." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).

Although the Court may consider affidavits and other matters outside of the pleadings on a Rule 12(b)(2) motion, the pleader's burden, in the absence of an evidentiary hearing, is only to make a "minimal" prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction, and the Court "must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the [pleader] and resolve all factual conflicts in its favor in deciding whether the [pleader] has made the requisite showing." K-V Pharm. Co. v. Uriach & CIA, S.A., 648 F.3d 588, 591-92 (8th Cir. 2011). Notwithstanding that facts are viewed in the light most favorable to the pleader, "[t]he party seeking to establish the court's in personam jurisdiction carries the burden of proof, and the burden does not shift to the party challenging jurisdiction." Viasystems, Inc. v. EBM-Papst St. Georgen GmbH & Co., KG, 646 F.3d 589, 592 (8th Cir. 2011) (quoting Epps v. Stewart Info. Servs. Corp., 327 F.3d 642, 647 (8th Cir. 2003)).

The perspective in our Circuit is one where courts should to "approach [the] analysis of personal jurisdiction on two levels, first examining whether the exercise of jurisdiction is proper under the forum state's long-arm statute[, ] [and] [i]f the activities of the non-resident defendant satisfy the statute's requirements, [to] then address whether the exercise of jurisdiction comports with due process." Dakota Indus. v. Dakota Sportswear, 946 F.2d 1384, 1391 (8th Cir. 1991).

"Due process requires that a defendant have certain minimum contacts' with the forum state for personal jurisdiction to be exercised." Myers v. Casino Queen, Inc., 689 F.3d 904, 911 (8th Cir. 2012) (citing Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington., 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945)). More specifically,

Contacts with the forum state must be sufficient that requiring a party to defend an action would not "offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." [ Int'l Shoe Co., 326 U.S.] at 316, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). "The substantial connection' between the defendant and the forum State necessary for a finding of minimum contacts must come about by an action of the defendant purposefully directed toward the forum State." Asahi ...

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