SW Legal Educational Publishing

Non-Commercial Web Site Discussion of Company Not Grounds for Personal Jurisdiction
Description Texas web site requested negative information about two Indiana companies by name, who sued web site author for various torts. Indiana courts do not have personal jurisdiction over web site author because of lack of commercial activity in Indiana and lack of direct communications.
Topic Cyberlaw
Key Words Internet, Personal Jurisdiction, Long-Arm Statute
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Conseco, an Indiana company, sued Hickerson for trademark infringement and other torts because Hickerson, a Texas resident, published a web site that mentioned Conseco and its subsidiary, Philadelphia Life. Hickerson requested that readers send him information about fraud or other unfair treatment by Philadelphia Life to help him in a suit against the firm. Consecoís suit was based upon Hickersonís use of the trademarked name "Conseco Inc." on the web site. Indiana trial court held that it did not have personal jurisdiction over Hickerson. Conseco appealed.
Decision Affirmed. A non-residentís discussion of a corporation in his Internet web site, without any other contact, did not create the minimum contact sufficient to allow Indiana to exercise personal jurisdiction over him in a trademark infringement action. Courts look at the level of interactivity of the site and the commercial nature of the information exchange. Hickerson did not direct advertising or send e-mail to anyone in Indiana. His only contact with Indiana was what he wrote about the companies on his web site.
Citation Conseco, Inc. v. Hickerson, 698 N.E.2d 816 (Ct. App., Ind., 1998)

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