Most companies have trade secrets. These may include customer lists, strategic information related to product marketing, a formula or methodology used in making a product, and business methods that improve efficiency or reduce costs, among other items. Often such trade secrets are critical to a company’s ability to compete and succeed. Unlike with patents, where owners must disclose the details of their inventions to receive patent rights, the owners of trade secrets risk losing legal protection if they do not keep details secret.
In my Blog post dated March 8, 2015, I noted that the question of whether an allegedly fraudulent petition to the Copyright Office to register a copyright can be a basis for personal jurisdiction in the District of Columbia was currently before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. I also noted that the parties, including defendant Erling Vignisson represented by Farkas+Toikka , were awaiting a ruling on defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.
CAN COPYRIGHT REGISTRATION BE A BASIS FOR PERSONAL JURISIDICTION IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA?
Generally, to establish personal jurisdiction over a non-resident, a court must engage in a two-part inquiry. First, examine whether jurisdiction is applicable under the state’s long-arm statute, and second, determine whether a finding of jurisdiction satisfies the constitutional requirements of due process. See GTE New Media Servs., Inc. v. BellSouth Corp., 199 F.3d 1343, 1347 (D.C. Cir. 2000). The District of Columbia long-arm statute provides that a District of Columbia court has personal jurisdiction over any person as to a claim for relief arising out of certain enumerated contacts with the District. D.C. Code Ann. § 13-423(a).
The term “intellectual property” generally means creations of the mind that are legally protected usually by copyrights, trademarks or patents but also may qualify for protection as trade secrets. In the United States, copyrights, trademarks and patents are generally the subject of federal laws and regulations, while trade secret protection is provided under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act as adopted by most of the states. The nature and scope of protection afforded to the different forms of intellectual property differ.