Mavrix Photo v. Brand Technologies

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 08-08-2011
  • Case #: 09-56134
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge W. Fletcher for the Court; Circuit Judge Wardlaw and District Judge B. Lynn
  • Full Text Opinion

A corporation that deliberately and continuously exploits a market in the forum state, is subject to specific personal jurisdiction when it satisfies purposeful direction of activities within the forum state and purposefully avails itself to the privilege of conducting activities within the forum.

Mavrix Photo (“Mavrix”) is a celerity photo agency, which pays photographers for random photos of celebrities. It then sells these photos to popular celebrity news magazines. Mavrix is a Florida corporation with its principal place of business in Miami. Mavrix employees many photographers in California, has a registered agent for service of process in California and pays fees to the Tax Board in California. Brand Technologies (“Brand”), an Ohio corporation with its principal place of business in Toledo, has a popular celebrity gossip website called celebrity-gossip.net and it holds a nationwide audience. Mavrix sued Brand for copyright infringement when they used Mavrix’s copyrighted photos on their website. The district court denied Mavrix’s motion for jurisdictional discovery and granted Brand’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Mavrix appealed. The Ninth Circuit held that although Brand is not subject to general personal jurisdiction, “Brand does have sufficient minimum contacts with California arising out of, or related to, it’s actions in reposting the photos to justify the exercise of specific jurisdiction.” While Brand had no offices or staff in California, did not pay California taxes, nor was it registered in California, nor had a registered agent for service in California, the Court held that it used Mavrix’s copyrighted photos to exploit the California market. This in turn constituted sufficient contacts with the forum state as Brand continuously and deliberately exploited the market by selling advertising space on its website directed at the California market. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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