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Unitedhealth Group, Inc. v. United Healthcare, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

July 21, 2014

UNITEDHEALTH GROUP, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED HEALTHCARE, INC., et al., Defendants.

ORDER

NANCY J. KOPPE, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Alternative Service. Docket No. 17. Plaintiff seeks an order from the Court, pursuant to Rule 4(f)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, permitting Plaintiff to effect service of process on Defendants United Healthcare J.S.C. ("JSC"), United Healthcare Factory ("Factory"), and Xuan Vy Co., Ltd. ("Xuan Vy") (collectively, the "Vietnam Defendants")[1] via electronic mail and first-class, United States mail. Id., at 1-3.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed its Complaint in this Court on February 11, 2014, alleging, inter alia, trademark infringement, unfair competition, trademark dilution, and claims arising under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1051 et seq., based on Defendants' purported use in commerce of Plaintiff's UNITED HEALTHCARE and UHC marks. Docket No. 1. Defendant United Healthcare, Inc., a/k/a United Healthcare Medical Devices, Inc. ("MDI") - the only Defendant that maintains a U.S. address - has been served in this case.[2] Docket No. 5. The Vietnam Defendants have refused to accept service of the Summons and Complaint. Docket No. 17, at 2. Plaintiff alleges that all of the Defendants "appear to share common, possibly familial, ownership and/or management, are each corporate affiliates and/or partners of the other, and/or are each alter egos of the other." Docket No. 17, at 6. See also Complaint ¶10.

On March 11, 2014, Plaintiff's counsel and MDI's counsel conversed by telephone. Docket No. 17, at 6. Plaintiff's counsel states that in that conversation, MDI's counsel acknowledged that MDI was "related" to the Vietnam Defendants, and that MDI wanted to discuss possible terms of settlement. Id., at 6-7. Plaintiff's counsel responded that it was likely that Plaintiff would want all of the Vietnam Defendants to accept service of the Summons and Complaint, before engaging in settlement discussions. Id., at 6-7. Further, Plaintiff's counsel said that any settlement would have to include the Vietnam Defendants as part of a global settlement. Id., at 7. During this conversation, MDI's counsel was asked if he would accept service of the Complaint and Summons on behalf of the Vietnam Defendants. Id. MDI's counsel declined to accept service. Id. In subsequent inquiries by Plaintiff's counsel, MDI's counsel continued to decline to accept service on behalf of the Vietnam Defendants. Id. Plaintiff now moves the Court for alternative service with respect to the Vietnam Defendants.

II. DISCUSSION

Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs service of process in civil suits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(h)(2) provides that, "[u]nless federal law provides otherwise or the defendant's waiver has been filed, a domestic or foreign corporation... must be served... at a place not within any judicial district of the United States, in any manner prescribed by Rule 4(f) for serving an individual, except personal delivery under (f)(2)(C)(i)." Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(f) provides:

Serving an Individual in a Foreign Country. Unless federal law provides otherwise, an individual - other than a minor, an incompetent person, or a person whose waiver has been filed - may be served at a place not within any judicial district of the United States:
(1) by any internationally agreed means of service that is reasonably calculated to give notice, such as those authorized by the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents;
(2) if there is no internationally agreed means, or if an international agreement allows but does not specify other means, by a method that is reasonably calculated to give notice:
(A) as prescribed by the foreign country's law for service in that country in an action in its courts of general jurisdiction;
(B) as the foreign authority directs in response to a letter rogatory or letter of request; or
(C) unless prohibited by the foreign country's law, by:
(i) delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the ...

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