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Energizer Brands II LLC v. Serious Scents, Inc.

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

March 19, 2018

ENERGIZER BRANDS II LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
SERIOUS SCENTS, INC and IBRAHIM NASSER, Defendants.

          ORDER OF TRANSFER

          RODNEY W. SIPPEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Energizer Brands II LLC filed this suit seeking declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief from Defendants Serious Scents and Ibrahim Nasser in a dispute over air fragrance trademarks. Defendants have moved to dismiss this case based on a lack of personal jurisdiction over Defendants. Because Defendants are not subject to personal jurisdiction in this Court, Defendant's motion could be granted. Instead of dismissing this action, however, I will transfer it to the United States District Court for the Southern District of California where a related case between the parties is pending.[1]

         Background

         Energizer owns numerous trademarks for automobile air fragrance products. These products are marketed under the CALIFORNIA SCENTS and DRIVEN BY REFRESH YOUR CAR brands. One of DRIVEN's products is a grenade-shaped scent-infused paper air freshener.

         Defendant Ibrahim Nasser is the principle owner and president of Defendant Serious Scents, Inc.[2] Serious Scents also owns and markets car air fresheners. Several of its products are in a grenade-shaped design.

         Energizer asserts that Defendants have recently been asserting unfounded trademark and copyright infringement claims concerning Energizer's CALIFORNIA SCENTS marks and the DRIVEN grenade design. Defendants' actions include initiating a cancellation action in January 2017 with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board against a supplemental registration for the DRIVEN grenade design. In addition, in January and February 2017, Defendants sent Energizer letters asserting that California Scents marks are infringing on Serious Scent's marks and the DRIVEN grenade design infringes on Serious Scents' grenade design.

         After receiving these challenges to its trademarks, Energizer filed this lawsuit against Defendants seeking a declaration of no trademark or trade dress infringement, a declaration of no copyright infringement, Lanham Act claims, and state law claims.

         Defendants have moved to dismiss this case based on a lack of personal jurisdiction over Defendants.

         Legal Standard

         To defeat a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the nonmoving party needs only to make a prima facie showing of jurisdiction. Miller v. Nippon Carbon Co., Ltd., 528 F.3d 1087, 1090 (8th Cir.2008). This requires a plaintiff to 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 America, Inc. v. Bassett & Walker Int'l, Inc., 702 F.3d 472, 474 (8th Cir. 2012). As the plaintiff in this matter Energizer has the burden of proving facts supporting personal jurisdiction. Dakota Indus., Inc. v. Dakota Sportswear, Inc., 946 F.2d 1384, 1387 (8th Cir. 1991). “If the district court does not hold a hearing and instead relies on pleadings and affidavits [] the court must look at the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Id.

         Energizer asserts Plaintiffs are subject to personal jurisdiction in this District. “Specific personal jurisdiction can be exercised by a federal court in a diversity suit only if authorized by the forum state's long-arm statute and permitted by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” Viasystems, Inc. v. EBM-Papst St. Georgen GmbH & Co., KG, 646 F.3d 589, 593 (8th Cir. 2011).

         Discussion

         I. Missouri Long-Arm Statute

         Although Missouri's “long-arm statute extends jurisdiction to the limits of the Due Process Clause, it does so only for acts within its enumerated categories. The Missouri Supreme Court has held that the legislature intended the long-arm statute ‘to provide for jurisdiction, within the specific categories enumerated in the statutes, to the full extent permitted by the due process clause of the ...


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