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Acushnet Co. v. Zimventures, LLC

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

December 23, 2015

ACUSHNET COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
ZIMVENTURES, LLC d/b/a 3 UP GOLF, DIXON GOLF, INC., KICK X GOLF CORPORATION d/b/a KICK X SPORTS, LIGHTNING GOLF, MONSTA GOLF LLC, RIFE GOLF, VAIL ROBERTS, LLC d/b/a/ I NEED THE BALL, VICE SPORTING GOODS GMBH d/b/a VICE GOLF, NEXEN CORPORATION d/b/a SAINTNINE, and ARIVA GOLF, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

WILLIAM G. YOUNG DISTRICT JUDGE

I. INTRODUCTION

The plaintiff Acushnet Company ("Acushnet") brought this suit against ten defendants for patent infringement. Three of these defendants, Nexen Corporation ("Nexen"), Dixon Golf, Inc. ("Dixon"), and Rife Golf ("Rife") (collectively, the "Moving Defendants"), moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction, arguing that they lack the minimum contacts with Massachusetts required for this Court to constitutionally assert jurisdiction. This Court concludes that Acushnet has met its burden of making a prima facie showing that each of the Moving Defendants purposefully availed itself of the privilege of doing business in Massachusetts, and that this lawsuit arises out of the Defendants' contacts with the forum state. Moreover, the exercise of jurisdiction here would not run afoul of the principle of fairness embodied in the Due Process Clause of the Constitution. Accordingly, each Defendant's motion to dismiss is denied.

A. Facts Alleged

Acushnet is an entity headquartered in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, that invents, manufactures, and sells golf equipment. Compl. ¶¶1, 4, ECF No. 1. Acushnet owns several patents[1] concerning the aerodynamic design of the dimple patterns on the outer casing of a golf ball. Id. ¶¶ 19, 25, 26. Acushnet alleges that each of the ten defendants infringed its patents by selling infringing products to customers in Massachusetts and soliciting business from Massachusetts customers over the Internet. Id. ¶15.

Nexen is a South Korean corporation with a principal place of business in Gimhae City, Republic of Korea. Id. ¶ 10. Nexen sells its allegedly infringing products under the trade name "SaintNine." Id. Dixon is a corporation with a principal place of business in Tempe, Arizona. Id. 3. Dixon sells its allegedly infringing products under the brand name "Dixon Fire." Id. 34. Rife is a business organization with a principal place of business in Bellevue, Washington. Id. 7. Rife sells its allegedly infringing products under the trade name "V Motion" or "Innovex V Motion." Id.

B. Procedural History

Acushnet initiated this lawsuit on April 6, 2015. See Compl. Nexen, Dixon, and Rife moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. Def. Nexen Corp.'s Mot. Dismiss Lack Personal Jurisdiction, ECF No. 50; Def. Dixon Golf, Inc.'s Mot. Dismiss Lack Personal Jurisdiction, ECF No. 54; Def. Rife Golf's Mot. Dismiss Lack Personal Jurisdiction, ECF No. 52.

Acushnet opposed each of the motions to dismiss and alternatively requested leave to conduct jurisdictional discovery.[2] Pl's Opp'n Def. Nexen Corp.'s Mot. Dismiss Lack Personal Jurisdiction ("Pl's Opp'n re Nexen"), ECF No. 7 9; Pl's Opp'n Def. Dixon Golf, Inc.'s Mot. Dismiss Lack Personal Jurisdiction ("Pl's Opp'n re Dixon"), ECF No. 78; Pl's Opp'n Def. Rife Golf's Mot. Dismiss Lack Personal Jurisdiction ("Pl's Opp'n re Rife"), ECF No. 80.

The Moving Defendants jointly filed a reply on October 22, 2015. Def. Dixon, Rife and Nexen's Joint Reply Supp. Respective Mots. Dismiss. ("Joint Reply"), ECF No. 101. The Court held a hearing on the motions to dismiss on October 30, 2015, and took them under advisement. Elec. Clerk's Notes, Oct. 30, 2014, ECF No. 107.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Applicable Law and Standard of Review

Pursuant to the Patent Act, 35 U.S.C. § 271(a), any person who "makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention" without authorization within the United States, or imports the same into the United States, infringes that patent. Id. Federal district courts have exclusive original subject matter jurisdiction over "any civil action arising under any Act of Congress relating to patents." 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1338(a). Personal jurisdiction issues in patent infringement cases are reviewed under Federal Circuit law, as the determination of personal jurisdiction in a patent infringement case involves patent-specific questions and not merely procedural matters. See Silent Drive, Inc. v. Strong Indus., Inc., 326 F.3d 1194, 1201 (Fed. Cir. 2003) (citations omitted).

In an action for patent infringement, "[t]o survive a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction in the absence of jurisdictional discovery, plaintiffs need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdiction." Nuance Commc'ns, Inc. v. Abbyy Software House, 626 F.3d 1222, 1231 (Fed. Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). In determining whether a plaintiff has made such a showing, the district court must "construe the pleadings and affidavits in the light most ...


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