Plaintiff (Telemedicine Sol’ns LLC) and Defendant (Woundright Techs, LLC) are two companies in the same industry. Plaintiff (Illinois resident) wanted to drag the non-Illinois Defendant into federal court in Illinois even if Defendant had no physical contacts with that jurisdiction. For the Plaintiff, Defendant’s minimum contacts with Illinois consisted of the fact that Defendant maintained a website visible in Illinois, used social media to interact with customers nationwide (including Illinois), attended industry conferences in Illinois, used a Google AdWords ad, and all the above media to intentionally disparage Plaintiff, to try to create confusion in customers and to divert Plaintiff’s customers away.
The court found indeed that the contacts “with the forum state occurred almost exclusively via the Internet.” In particular, it is true that Defendant “maintain[s] a presence on the internet beyond its website … [that it uses] social media, including Facebook and Twitter, to communicate with potential customers throughout the United States. … Through these social media channels, Defendants promotes its products… Defendant also uses social media channels to interact with individuals in a number of states though it has not specifically targeted either its Facebook postings or Twitter tweets to consumers in Illinois. Defendant … purchased a Google AdWords ad that appeared as the top result when a user searched Google for term “woundrounds.” The Google ad “had nothing to do with Illinois”.
The court stated that the Seventh Circuit has long been “hesit[ant] to fashion a special jurisdictional test for Internet-based based cases” (Tamburo, 601 F.3d at 703 n.7) and has held that “[u]sing a separate test for Internet-based contacts would be inappropriate” (uBid, Inc. v. TheGoDaddy Group, Inc., 623 F.3d 421, 431 n.1 (7th Cir. 2010).) The test is typically “weather the defendant has purposely exploited or in some way targeted the forum state’s market.” (“express aiming” test). In this test, even a “highly interactive” website that is “accessible from, but does not target, the forum state” is not enough.
The court applied the “express aiming” test and found no basis for asserting jurisdiction. While “[i]nternet-based contacts do not give rise to any particularly expansive or special minimum contacts test”, “the bottom line inquiry is whether the nature of the relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation makes it fair to exercise jurisdiction over the defendant. That relationship is tenuous at best here.” The court held that Defendant’s advertisement did not target Illinois and the “only connection between Defendant’s allegedly tortious ad and the forum state is Plaintiff’s location…” Instead, pursuant to the Seventh Circuit’s test, the alleged conduct must be “somehow connected to the forum state.” “None of Defendant’s alleged contacts – its website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and conference –based marketing efforts – were targeted or aimed at Illinois, or prompted any more than happenstance interactions with Illinois residents or business. Defendant has not distributed its product in Illinois, and it has not expressly sought to do so.” Accordingly, the court Dow granted Defendant’s F.R.C.P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Read the full case here