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Basimah Khulusi M.D., LLC v. Honeywell International, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

January 25, 2019

BASIMAH KHULUSI M.D., LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          GREG KAYS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Basimah Khulusi, M.D., Inc., alleges Defendant Honeywell International, Inc., (“Honeywell International”) infringed on its patent for workplace safety goggles by making and selling a similar product. Now before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss or, in the alternative, Transfer (Doc. 12).[1] Because Plaintiff has failed to make a prima facie showing that Honeywell International purposefully availed itself to the forum, the motion to dismiss is GRANTED.

         Background

         Plaintiff is a Missouri company that patented safety goggles worn over eyeglasses, which Dr. Basimah Khulusi, a medical doctor, invented. Honeywell International is a parent company to organizations that make and sell a variety of consumer and commercial products. One such subsidiary is Honeywell Safety Products, USA, Inc., (“Honeywell Safety”) which, among other things, designs and sells eye protection products.

         In December 2015, Plaintiff's counsel sent a licensing letter to Honeywell International and Honeywell Safety, offering to license Plaintiff's patent for UVEX goggles, which are sold on Honeywell Safety's website (Doc. 17-3). Matthew Smyth, an assistant general counsel of intellectual property at Honeywell International, replied that he represented Honeywell Safety and that the company refused to accept a licensing arrangement with Plaintiff (Doc. 18-1). Plaintiff then filed this patent-infringement claim against Honeywell International on June 1, 2018 (Doc. 1). In response, Honeywell International filed this motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, transfer, arguing this Court does not have personal jurisdiction over Honeywell International, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim, and, at the least, the case should be transferred to Delaware.

         Discussion

         The Court addresses only Honeywell International's argument that this Court does not have personal jurisdiction over it because that issue is dispositive of this motion.

         I. This Court does not have personal jurisdiction over Honeywell International.

         The exercise of personal jurisdiction must comport with the forum's long-arm statute and with due process. Graphic Controls Corp. v. Utah Med. Prods., Inc., 149 F.3d 1382, 1385 (Fed. Cir. 1998).[2] Since Missouri's long-arm statute authorizes the exercise of jurisdiction over non-residents to the extent permitted by the due process clause, Mo. Rev. Stat. § 506.500 (2016), the jurisdictional analysis collapses into a single inquiry, AFTG-TG, LLC v. Nuvoton Tech. Corp., 689 F.3d 1358, 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2012).

         Due process requires a defendant to have “certain minimum contacts with [the forum] such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend ‘traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'” Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940)). The “minimum contacts” necessary may be specific or general, but regardless of which is asserted, the primary focus is the defendant's relationship to the forum. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., San Francisco Cty., 137 S.Ct. 1773, 1779 (2017).

         A. The Court does not have general jurisdiction over Honeywell International.

         Plaintiff first avers the Court has general jurisdiction over Honeywell International (Doc. 17 at 18). But neither of the paradigm bases for general jurisdiction exist since Honeywell International is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in New Jersey. See Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117, 137 (2014) (holding the place of incorporation and principal place of business are paradigm bases for general jurisdiction). And Honeywell International certainly cannot be said to have contacts so continuous and systematic as to render it essentially at home in Missouri. See id. (holding that the presence of multiple offices, the direct distribution of thousands of products accounting for billions of dollars in sales, and the continuous interactions with customers in the forum are not enough to support the exercise of general jurisdiction). The Court does not have general jurisdiction over Honeywell International.

         B. The Court does not have specific jurisdiction over Honeywell International.

         A closer call is whether this Court has specific jurisdiction. The Federal Circuit has outlined a three-pronged test for determining whether specific jurisdiction exists: “(1) whether the defendant purposefully directs activities at the forum[] …; (2) whether the claim arises out of or relates to those activities; and (3) whether assertion of personal jurisdiction is reasonable and fair.” AFTG-TG, 689 F.3d at 1361. Once the plaintiff has made a prima facie showing that the first two elements of the due process requirement are met, the burden shifts to the defendant to prove jurisdiction is unreasonable. Celgard, LLC v. SK Innovation Co., 792 F.3d 1373, 1378 (Fed. Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). “[A] district court must accept the uncontroverted allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true and resolve ...


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