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DCM Systems, Incorporated v. Technical Trades Institute, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

September 25, 2014



INDIRA TALWANI, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff DCM Systems, Incorporated ("DCM") filed this action against Defendant Technical Trades Institute, Inc. d/b/a IntelliTec College ("IntelliTec"), alleging (1) copyright infringement, (2) removal of copyright management information in violation of 17 U.S.C. § 1202, (3) unfair competition under section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, and (4) tortious interference with business relations. Defendant moves to dismiss the amended complaint on four grounds, including lack of personal jurisdiction. Because the court finds that it lacks personal jurisdiction over IntelliTec as to DCM's claims, it hereby ALLOWS IntelliTec's Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint [#10].

II. Facts Relating to Personal Jurisdiction

DCM alleges the following jurisdictional facts in its amended complaint.[1] DCM is a Massachusetts corporation with its principal place of business in Massachusetts. DCM is the provider of a learning system, which includes the Dean Vaughn Medical Terminology 350 Instructional Program. DCM owns the content in and copyright to the individual video lessons of this program, including fourteen video lessons in DCM's Dean Vaughn Medical Terminology 350 Second Edition program (hereinafter "the Video Lessons") that, as further explained below, were purchased by IntelliTec in 2004. DCM protects this intellectual property, in part, "by issuing individualized, numbered, Site Licenses that, by their terms, limit the use and broadcast of the video content, precluding, inter alia, exhibition to anyone other than the purchaser or the employees of the purchaser, and precluding transmission or broadcast without the express written permission of the copyright holder, DCM." First Am. Compl. ¶ 22 [#6].

Since at least as early as 1991, DCM has sold Dean Vaughn Medical Terminology products to IntelliTec, a Colorado corporation with campuses in Pueblo, Grand Junction, and Colorado Springs, Colorado, and a principal place of business in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In December 2000, IntelliTec ordered and received fourteen video lessons from DCM entitled "Dean Vaughn Medical Terminology 350 First Edition." Since that time, IntelliTec has placed "104 orders for and made 104 purchases from DCM of nearly 3, 000 printed texts entitled Dean Vaughn Medical Terminology 350 Learning Guide, ' which are used with the Dean Vaughn Medical Terminology 350 video lessons to teach the Dean Vaughn Medical Terminology 350 Instructional Program to IntelliTec students." Id . ¶ 9.

In November 2004, IntelliTec ordered two sets of the Video Lessons, which DCM shipped from Massachusetts to IntelliTec with two separately numbered Site Licenses, one for each of the two campuses on which the videos are allowed to be used. These orders were shipped F.O.B. Walpole, Massachusetts. In June 2013, IntelliTec posted substantially identical copies of at least eleven of these fourteen video lessons on IntelliTec's "IntelliTecVideos" channel on YouTube, making them widely available throughout the United States. Moreover, based upon information and belief, these copies have been distributed, viewed, displayed, and copied in Massachusetts.

On numerous occasions, DCM has been asked by customers and potential customers for permission to copy its materials and make those materials available-requests that DCM denied. IntelliTec's publication of the Video Lessons makes it appear that DCM has selectively changed its policies, raising objections from DCM's other customers which complain about what they perceive as favorable treatment afforded to IntelliTec. As a longstanding customer, IntelliTec knew of DCM's relationships with its other customers and potential customers and interfered with these relationships through improper motive or means.

Finally, IntelliTec operates an interactive website accessible to businesses and individuals located in Massachusetts, from which prospective students can apply for admission, schedule a campus tour, and contact a financial assistance representative. Moreover, individuals and businesses who are interested in hiring graduates of IntelliTec may use the Employer Request Form to request qualified graduates.

III. Discussion

A. Personal Jurisdiction

"An exercise of [personal] jurisdiction must be authorized by state statute and must comply with the [United States] Constitution." Harlow v. Children's Hosp. , 432 F.3d 50, 57 (1st Cir. 2005). "The court may exercise two types of personal jurisdiction-general or specific." Bridge St. Auto., Inc. v. Green Valley Oil, LLC , 985 F.Supp.2d 96, 109 (D. Mass. 2013;). DCM does not argue that this court has general jurisdiction over IntelliTec. Opp'n Mot. Dismiss First Am. Compl. 12 n.3 [#15] (hereinafter Pl.'s Opp'n). Thus, this court must decide whether specific jurisdiction exists under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 223A, ¶ 3-the Massachusetts long-arm statute-and the Constitution. Because the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has interpreted the Massachusetts long-arm statute as being coextensive with the limits permitted by the Constitution, this court proceeds directly to the constitutional analysis. See Adelson v. Hananel , 652 F.3d 75, 80 (1st Cir. 2011).

Due process requires that IntelliTec have "minimum contacts" with the forum state 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) (quotation marks and citation omitted). "The First Circuit employs a tripartite analysis to determine whether specific jurisdiction is appropriate: (1) whether the claims arise out of or are related to the defendant's in-state activities, (2) whether the defendant has purposefully availed itself of the laws of the forum state and (3) whether the exercise of jurisdiction is reasonable under the circumstances." C.W. Downer & Co. v. Bioriginal Food & Sci. Corp., No. 13-11788, 2014 WL 815189, at *2 (D. Mass. Mar. 3, 2014) (quotation marks and citation omitted). Moreover, "[q]uestions of specific jurisdiction are always tied to the particular claims asserted." Phillips Exeter Acad. v. Howard ...

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