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for the Southern District of New York

Court Finds Personal Jurisdiction Based on Sales Through Amazon.com

In a July 8, 2016 ruling, Judge Lorna G. Schofield upheld personal jurisdiction at the motion to dismiss stage based in part on allegations that the defendants, who were based in Michigan, sold their allegedly infringing goods in New York through the Amazon.com Marketplace.  Construing New York's long-arm statute, CPLR § 302, Judge Schofield wrote:
The Complaint also alleges that Defendants sold goods that were shipped to New York
via Amazon.com. This conduct provides an alternative basis for personal jurisdiction over Defendants. Regularly offering and selling goods via an online marketplace such as Amazon.com can provide a basis for personal jurisdiction under CPLR § 302(a), even though Defendants do not control their Amazon.com “storefront” or its interactivity to the same extent that they control their own highly interactive website. . . . For internet sellers who use an internet storefront like Amazon, courts generally distinguish between two categories. First are commercial vendors who use it “as a means for establishing regular business with a remote forum.” . . . Jurisdiction is proper as to these defendants. In the second category are occasional sellers who use an internet service once to sell goods to the highest bidder who happens to be in the forum state. . . . Jurisdiction is improper as to these sellers assuming no additional contacts with the forum state. Defendants here are alleged to fall into the first category. They allegedly conduct their business of selling infringing garments on the Amazon platform; their sales are nationwide and include New York.  Consequently, jurisdiction is proper under § 302(a).
 The Court further found that the assertion of jurisdiction would comport with due process, and denied the motion to dismiss, ruling that "the allegations in the Complaint make a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction over Defendants under CPLR § 302(a)(1), within the constitutional limits of due process."
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