News Release

December 8, 2023
ALF Urges Supreme Court To Decide Where Online Sellers
Can Be Sued

Question Presented:

Whether an online seller whose products ship nationwide is subject to personal jurisdiction in every State to which even one of its products
is shipped

"Promoting forum shopping by allowing an online seller to be sued in any State to which its products are shipped violates due process and harms consumers."

Atlantic Legal Foundation
Where can a company that offers its products nationwide—either directly through its own interactive website, or indirectly through a third-party online platform such as Amazon—be sued? This is the important, recurring, Internet-age, personal jurisdiction question that the petitioners in Photoplaza, Inc. v. Herbal Brands, Inc., No. 23-504, are asking the Supreme Court to decide.

Case Background

The certiorari petition explains that the Ninth Circuit held in Photoplaza, a trademark infringement case, that personal jurisdiction over an online seller can be exercised in any and every State to which its products have been shipped. The Second and Seventh Circuit have issued similar rulings, but the Fifth and Eighth Circuits have held that nationwide shipping alone is insufficient to establish that an online seller “expressly aimed” its product at the forum State for jurisdictional purposes.

ALF has filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to grant review and apply its well-established “minimum contacts” due process principles for exercise of case-specific personal jurisdiction over online sellers of products.

ALF's Amicus Brief

ALF’s amicus brief explains that by creating what is tantamount to nationwide personal jurisdiction over online sellers, the Ninth Circuit has facilitated forum shopping, i.e., enabling a plaintiff to file suit in a forum State that it believes will be sympathetic to its cause. Haling corporate defendants into hostile courts by means of forum shopping undermines the due process to which they are entitled. Such forum shopping also harms consumers by forcing product manufacturers to raise their prices, or if possible, even withdraw their products from certain markets.
Media Contact: Larry Ebner | Tel: 202-349-1421
About the Atlantic Legal Foundation

For more than 46 years, the Atlantic Legal Foundation, a national, nonprofit, nonpartisan, public interest law firm, has advocated in the Supreme Court, federal courts of appeals, and state appellate courts for individual liberty, free enterprise, property rights, limited & responsible government, sound science in judicial & regulatory proceedings, and effective education, including parental rights and school choice.
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