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Bravo Company USA, Inc. v. Badger Ordnance LLC

United States District Court, D. Nevada

June 16, 2014

BRAVO COMPANY USA, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
BADGER ORDNANCE LLC et al., Defendants.

ORDER

ROBERT C. JONES, District Judge.

This case arises out of the alleged infringement of to of Defendants patents related to an ambidextrous charging-handle for an M-16-type assault rifle. Pending before the Court are Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 12) for lack of personal jurisdiction and Plaintiff's Motions for Leave to Conduct Jurisdictional Discovery and Extend Time to Respond (ECF Nos. 16, 17). For the reasons given herein, the Court denies the motion to dismiss, without prejudice, grants the motion for discovery in part, and denies the motion for an extension of time as moot.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff Bravo Company USA, Inc. ("Bravo Co.") manufactures an ambidextrous charging handle for M-16-type[1] assault rifles called the "5.56mm/.223 Mod. A44 Black Ambidextrous Charging Handle GFH 556 MOD A44" (the "Accused Product") under a license from non-party Abrams Airborne, Inc. d.b.a. Vltor Weapon Systems ("Vltor"). (Compl. ¶¶ 2-3, Mar. 14, 2014, ECF No. 1). Vltor holds U.S. Patent No. 8, 336, 436 for an "Ambidextrous Cam Style Charging Handle, " pursuant to which Bravo Co. manufactures and sells the Accused Product under license. ( Id. ¶ 3). The 436 Patent is not directly at issue in the present case.

At issue are two patents owned by Defendant Badger Ordnance LLC ("Badger"), U.S. Patents No. 7, 900, 546 and 7, 240, 600 (collectively, the "Patents"). ( See id. ¶ 8). The 546 Patent issued from a continuation of the application from which the 600 Patent issued. ( Id. ¶ 5). Defendant Martin J. Bordson is the sole inventor of the Patents, and he owns and controls Badger. ( Id. ¶¶ 5, 9). Badger has accused Bravo Co. of infringement of the Patents via the manufacture and sale of the Accused Product, inter alia, in Nevada, and has threatened legal action. ( Id. ¶¶ 12-17). Bravo Co. has therefore filed the present suit for declarations of noninfringement and invalidity. Badger has moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Bravo Co. has asked the Court for sixty days to conduct jurisdictional discovery and for twenty-one days thereafter to oppose the motion to dismiss.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

A defendant may move to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). Jurisdiction exists if: (1) provided for by law; and (2) the exercise of jurisdiction comports with due process. See Greenspun v. Del E. Webb Corp., 634 F.2d 1204, 1207 (9th Cir. 1980). When no federal statute governs personal jurisdiction, a federal court applies the law of the forum state. See Boschetto v. Hansing, 539 F.3d 1011, 1015 (9th Cir. 2008). Where a forum state's long-arm statute provides its courts jurisdiction to the fullest extent of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, such as Nevada's does, see Arbella Mut. Ins. Co. v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 134 P.3d 710, 712 (Nev. 2006) (citing Nev. Rev. Stat. § 14.065), a court need only apply federal due process standards, see Boschetto, 539 F.3d at 1015.[2]

There are two categories of personal jurisdiction: general jurisdiction and specific jurisdiction. Traditionally, general jurisdiction exists over a defendant who has "substantial" or "continuous and systematic" contacts with the forum state such that the assertion of personal jurisdiction over her is constitutionally fair even where the claims are unrelated to those contacts. See Tuazon v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 433 F.3d 1163, 1171 (9th Cir. 2006) (citing Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 415 (1984)). A state court has general jurisdiction over the state's own residents, for example.

The Supreme Court recently clarified that general personal jurisdiction exists only where a company is at "home" in the forum state. See Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 760-62 (2014). The Court noted that "continuous and systematic" contacts alone are not enough in-andof-themselves to create general jurisdiction. See id. The quoted phrase was in fact first used in the context of specific jurisdiction as conjunctive with the "arises-out-of" requirement. See id. at 761 (citing Int'l Shoe Co. v. State of Wash., Office of Unemployment Comp. & Placement, 326 U.S. 310, 317 (1945)). "Accordingly, the inquiry under Goodyear is not whether a foreign corporation's in-forum contacts can be said to be in some sense continuous and systematic, ' it is whether that corporation's affiliations with the State are so "continuous and systematic" as to render [it] essentially at home in the forum State.'" Id. (quoting Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations S.A. v. Brown, 131 S.Ct. 2846, 2851 (2011)) (alteration in original). So the company must be at "home" in the forum state for there to be general jurisdiction. Where this is not the case, a plaintiff must rely on specific jurisdiction, i.e., the action must have arisen out of contacts with the forum state.

Even where there is no general jurisdiction over a defendant, specific jurisdiction exists when there are sufficient minimal contacts with the forum state such that the assertion of personal jurisdiction "does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'" Int'l Shoe Co. v. State of Wash., Office of Unemployment Comp. & Placement, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (quoting Milliken, 311 U.S. at 463). The standard has been restated using different verbiage. See Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 253 (1958) ("[I]t is essential in each case that there be some act by which the defendant purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws." (citing Int'l Shoe Co., 326 U.S. at 319)); World-wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980) ("[T]he foreseeability that is critical to due process analysis is not the mere likelihood that a product will find its way into the forum State. Rather, it is that the defendant's conduct and connection with the forum State are such that he should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there." (citing Kulko v. Superior Court of Cal., 436 U.S. 84, 97-98 (1978))). From these cases and others, the Ninth Circuit has developed a three-part test for specific jurisdiction:

(1) The non-resident defendant must purposefully direct his activities or consummate some transaction with the forum or resident thereof; or perform some act by which he purposefully avails himself of the privilege of conducting activities in the forum, thereby invoking the benefits and protections of its laws;
(2) the claim must be one which arises out of or relates to the defendant's forum-related activities; and
(3) the exercise of jurisdiction must comport with fair play and substantial justice, i.e. it must be reasonable.

Boschetto, 539 F.3d at 1016 (quoting Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d ...


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