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Fisherbroyles, LLP v. Juris Law Group

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

February 12, 2015

FISHERBROYLES, LLP, Plaintiff,
v.
JURIS LAW GROUP, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, Jr., District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant Juris Law Group's ("Defendant") Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction and Motion for Sanctions [5] (the "Motion").

I. BACKGROUND

On April 12, 2014, Plaintiff FisherBroyles, LLP ("Plaintiff") field its Complaint [1] ("Complaint"), asserting claims of trademark infringement and unfair competition against Defendant.

Plaintiff asserts that it is a limited liability partnership organized and existing under the laws of the State of Georgia, with its principal place of business in Atlanta, Georgia, and that Defendant is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of California, with its principal place of business in Century City, California. (Compl. ¶¶ 4-5).

Plaintiff practices law under the registered trademark "THE NEXT GENERATION LAW FIRM" (the "Mark"). (Id. ¶¶ 6, 10). Plaintiff has ten (10) offices nationwide, including offices in California, and has advertised its legal services under the Mark throughout the United States, including the State of California and Century City. (Id. ¶¶ 7-9).

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant provides legal services using the slogan "the next generation law firm, " and adopted this slogan despite knowing of Plaintiff's extensive use of the trademark. and despite Plaintiff's requests that Defendant cease its infringement. (Id. ¶¶ 11-13). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's use of the Mark will cause confusion or cause third parties to believe that Plaintiff is affiliated with Defendant, and Plaintiff is likely to be damaged as a result of this confusion. (Id. ¶ 20).

Plaintiff requests that the Court enjoin Defendant from using the words "the next generation law firm" in the advertisement of legal services and that Defendant account to Plaintiff and pay Plaintiff all profits realized by Defendant from the sale of legal services using the slogan "the next generation law firm." (Id. at 6-7).

On May 16, 2014, Defendant filed its Motion, requesting that the Court dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint against Defendant for lack of personal jurisdiction and sanction Plaintiff for Defendant's attorneys' fees and costs incurred in responding to the Complaint.

Defendant argues that it does not have any contact with Georgia such that Defendant would be subject to personal jurisdiction in this state. (Motion at 1). Defendant asserts that it is a small law firm with two offices in California that primarily only accepts cases or clients that are based in California. (Id. at 2). Defendant asserts that, with the exception of this matter, it has never handled a case in Georgia, has never conducted business in Georgia, and does not solicit business in Georgia. (Id.). Defendant does not maintain an office, employees, representatives, or agents in Georgia, and is not registered to do business in Georgia. (Id. at 2-3). Defendant does not own, lease, or use any real property in Georgia. (Id. at 3). Plaintiff does not allege, in its Complaint, any specific facts that contradict Defendant's assertions, and does not allege any facts, aside from its allegations of trademark infringement and the claimed copying of pages from Plaintiff's website, that suggest that the Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendant.

Defendant asserts that the conduct Plaintiff alleges in its Complaint, if it occurred, occurred in California. (Id.). Defendant argues that it is not subject to either general or specific personal jurisdiction under Georgia's long-arm statute, and that exercising personal jurisdiction over it would violate the Due Process requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment. (Id. at 5-8).

On June 2, 2014, Plaintiff filed its Response in Opposition [7] (the "Response") to the Motion. Plaintiff asserts that the allegations in the Complaint regarding Defendant's wrongful use of the Mark establish that the Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendant. (Response at 2-3). In addition to the allegations in the Complaint, Plaintiff's Response contained additional allegations concerning Defendant's alleged trademark infringement. (Id. at 3-7).

Plaintiff asserts that Defendant's "intentional, targeted torts against plaintiff justify the exercise of personal jurisdiction against it." (Id. at 3). Plaintiff asserts that the Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendant under Georgia's long-arm statute because of Defendant's "intentional, targeted torts against plaintiff constitute transacting business in Georgia." (Id. at 7). Specifically, Plaintiff asserts that the copying of its Mark from its website constitutes the transaction of business in Georgia. (Id. at 14-15).

Plaintiff asserts further that Defendant's intentional, tortious acts aimed at Plaintiff establishes the necessary minimum contacts with Georgia to satisfy Due Process. (Id. at 17-18). Plaintiff asserts that Defendant knew its infringement of Plaintiff's Mark would injure Plaintiff "and that ...


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