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Omega RV v. The RV Factory, LLC

United States District Court, D. Idaho

May 10, 2017

OMEGA RV, Plaintiff,
v.
THE RV FACTORY, LLC, a limited liability company; and CLAUDE DONATI, an individual, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          EDWARD J. LODGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is Defendants The RV Factory, LLC and Claude Donati's Motion to Dismiss. (Dkt. 15.) The parties filed responsive briefing and the motion is now ripe. Having fully reviewed the record herein, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and record. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court conclusively finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the Motion shall be decided on the record before this Court without oral argument. The Court denies Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and grants Defendants' Motion to Transfer.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND[1]

         Plaintiff Omega RV, LLC, (“Omega”) is an Idaho limited liability company with its principal place of business in Idaho. (Dkt. 7.) Omega manufactures and sells RVs on a statewide and national level. (Dkt. 18.) Defendant The RV Factory, LLC (“The RV Factory”) is an Indiana limited liability company with its principal place of business in Indiana. (Dkt. 15.) The RV Factory manufactures its RVs at its production facility in Wakarusa, Indiana where it also has a showroom where its RVs are displayed and available for sale. (Dkt. 15.) Defendant Claude Donati (“Donati”) is an individual and resident of Indiana and owner of the RV Factory. (Dkt. 15.) The parties both sell RVs and toy hauler trailers bearing the “Weekend Warrior” mark and dispute who has the right to use the mark. (Dkt. 15, 18.)

         The Complaint alleges that the “Weekend Warrior” name has been used by Mark Warmoth (“Warmoth”) who has sold RVs bearing the mark since 1988. (Dkt. 18.) Warmoth has sold approximately 30, 000 RVs under the “Weekend Warrior” name from 1988 to 2008. (Dkt. 18.) In 2010, Warmoth partnered with another individual, Don Day, to form Extreme Warrior RV, LLC, which in 2011, began constructing, marketing, and selling its line of “Weekend Warrior” trailers. (Dkt. 7.) In 2012, Extreme Warrior, LLC encountered financial difficulties and sought funding from others in the RV industry, including from Defendants. (Dkt. 7, 18.) Defendants rejected the funding requests and instead, on April 16, 2013, Donati filed a trademark application for the “Weekend Warrior” mark. (Dkt. 7, 18.)[2] Defendants began using the “Weekend Warrior” mark on its RVs and trailers in 2013. (Dkt. 7.) Warmoth ultimately assigned the “Weekend Warrior” mark to Omega, who then began constructing, manufacturing, and selling RVs bearing the “Weekend Warrior” mark. (Dkt. 18.) On May 4, 2016, Defendants sent a cease and desis letter to Omega demanding that it stop using the “Weekend Warrior” mark on its RVs. (Dkt. 7, Ex. A.)

         In response, Omega filed suit against Defendants seeking a declaratory judgment invalidating Defendants' trademark, alleging trademark infringement, unfair competition, and tortious interference with a contract. (Dkt. 7.)[3] Omega claims it has the right to use the mark because it was assigned the mark from Warmoth. The RV Factory counters that it owns the trademark to the “Weekend Warrior” mark since approximately 2013, and, therefore, has the right to use the mark on its RVs. Omega maintains that Warmoth's rights to the “Weekend Warrior” trademark have priority over Defendants' rights because Warmoth used the trademark in commercial business for 25 years before Donati applied for the trademark.

         Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(2) and 12(b)(3). (Dkt. 15.) Omega filed its Response and Defendants filed their Reply. (Dkt. 18, 23.) The Court now takes up Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.

         STANDARD OF LAW

         Motions to dismiss made pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) “are speaking motions and it is appropriate to look beyond the pleadings to affidavits and other evidence when considering them.” National Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh v. Aerohawk Aviation, Inc., 259 F.Supp.2d 1096, 1101 (D. Idaho 2003) (citing Data Disc Inc. v. Systems Technology Assocs., Inc., 557 F.2d 1280 (9th Cir. 1977)). “Where a defendant moves to dismiss a complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating that jurisdiction is appropriate.” Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797, 800 (9th Cir. 2004) (citing Sher v. Johnson, 911 F.2d 1357, 1361 (9th Cir. 1990)). Where “the [defendant's] motion is based on written materials rather than an evidentiary hearing, ‘the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts.'” Id. The Court looks to the pleadings and affidavits to determine whether the plaintiff has made a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction. Id. “Although the plaintiff cannot ‘simply rest on the bare allegations of its complaint, ' uncontroverted allegations in the complaint must be taken as true.” Dole Food Co., Inc. v. Watts, 303 F.3d 1104, 1108 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Amba Marketing Systems, Inc. v. Jobar Int'l, Inc., 551 F.2d 784, 787 (9th Cir. 1977)). “Conflicts between parties over statements contained in affidavits must be resolved in the plaintiff's favor.” Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 800 (citing AT&T v. Compagnie Bruxelles Lambert, 94 F.3d 586, 588 (9th Cir. 1996)).

         ANALYSIS

         1. Personal Jurisdiction

         “Where, as here, there is no applicable federal statute governing personal jurisdiction, the district court applies the law of that state in which the district court sits.” Yahoo! Inc. v. La Ligue Contre Le Racisme Et L'Antisemitisme, 433 F.3d 1199, 1205 (9th Cir. 2006) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(1)(A)). “In order for an Idaho court to exert jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant, two criteria must be met; the act giving rise to the cause of action must fall within the scope of our long-arm statute and the constitutional standards of due process must be met.” Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center v. State of Wash., 852 P.2d 491, 494 (Idaho 1992). Idaho Code § 5-514 confers personal jurisdiction over any “cause of action arising from . . . [t]he commission of a tortious act within [Idaho].” See Idaho Code § 5-514(b). Under this standard, the negligent act need not take place in Idaho; all that is required is that the injury is alleged to have occurred in Idaho. National Union Fire Ins. Co., 259 F.Supp.2d at 1102.

         Omega claims it is rightfully using the “Weekend Warrior” trademark and its business is suffering as a result of Defendants' infringement because it confuses Idaho consumers who are targeted via Defendants' website. Under the long arm statute, the alleged injury to Omega is occurring in Idaho.

         “Because Idaho's long-arm statute, codified in Idaho Code § 5-514, allows a broader application of personal jurisdiction than the Due Process Clause, the Court need look only to the Due Process Clause to determine personal jurisdiction.” Thus, under Idaho law, the jurisdictional and federal due process analyses are the same.” Id.[4]

         Due process requires that a nonresident defendant have sufficient “minimum contacts” with the forum state such that the exercise of jurisdiction “does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (internal quotations and citation omitted). “[T]he constitutional touchstone of the determination whether an exercise of personal jurisdiction comports with due process remains whether the defendant purposefully established minimum contacts in the forum State.” Asahi Metal Indus. Co. v. Superior Court of California, Solano Cty., 480 U.S. 102, 108-109 (1987) (internal quotations and citations omitted). “Jurisdiction is proper . . . where the contacts proximately result from actions by the defendant himself that create a substantial connection with the forum State.” Id. at 109 (internal quotations and citations omitted) (emphasis in original).

         Personal jurisdiction can be general or specific. Lake v. Lake, 817 F.2d 1416, 1420 (9th Cir. 1987). A court may assert general personal jurisdiction over foreign corporations “when their affiliations with the State are so ‘continuous and systematic' as to render them essentially at home in the forum State.” Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011) (citing Int'l Shoe Co., 326 U.S. at 317). In contrast, specific personal jurisdiction is exercised when a state asserts personal jurisdiction over a defendant in a lawsuit arising out of or related to the defendant's contacts with the forum state. Helicoptores Nacionales de Columbia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414 n.8 (1984). Specific jurisdiction depends on the quality and nature of the defendant's contacts with the forum state in relation to the cause of action. Lake, 817 F.2d at 1421.

         Omega seems to concede the Court does not have general jurisdiction over the Defendants. Instead, Omega contends the Court has specific jurisdiction over the Defendants because Omega was harmed by the conduct that Defendants purposefully directed towards Idaho. Therefore, the Court will only address specific jurisdiction.

         2. Specific Personal Jurisdiction over Defendants

         Specific jurisdiction may be exercised over a nonresident defendant when the cause of action arises out of its contact with, or activities in, the forum state. SRE-Cheaptrips, Inc. v. Media Synergy Group, LLC, 2010 WL 1913589, at *3 (D. Idaho May, 2010) (citing Resnick v. Rowe, 283 F.Supp.2d 1128, 1135 (D. Hawaii 2003)). The Ninth Circuit has established a three-part test to determine whether a court may exercise specific personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant:

(1) the nonresident defendant must purposefully direct his activities or consummate some transaction with the forum or residents thereof; or perform some act by which he purposefully avails himself of the privilege of conducting activities in the forum, thereby invoking the benefits and protections of its laws; (2) the claim must be one which arises out of or results from the defendant's forum-related activities; and (3) exercise of jurisdiction must be reasonable.

Lake, 817 F.2d at 1421; see also Ballard v. Savage, 65 F.3d 1495 (9th Cir. 1995). Omega bears the burden of satisfying the first two factors. If Omega meets its burden, the burden then shifts to Defendants to demonstrate unreasonableness. Lake, 817 F.2d at 1421; Bosc ...


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