Facebook's Jurisdiction Rejected in Suit Against Faceporn

Rhett Pardon

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal court has rejected Facebook's jurisdiction in its case against Faceporn.com, operated out of Norway, in a trademark infringement suit.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Cousins denied Facebook’s motion for a default judgment and recommended the case dismissed for lack of "personal jurisdiction."

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Facebook had moved for entry of a default judgment against defendants, an award of $80,000 in attorneys fees and $13,000 in litigation costs, as well as a permanent injunction barring defendants from using Facebook’s registered “Facebook” and “Wall” marks.

It also asked for a transfer of FacePorn.com, FacePorn.net and FacePorn.org to Facebook.

"[P]ersonal jurisdiction over defendants is unjustified, as Facebook has failed to satisfy the first element of the [9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal's] test for specific personal jurisdiction," Cousins said. "That is, Facebook has failed to show that defendants purposefully directed their activities at California."

Specifically, Cousins pointed to the Facebook's "express-aiming" element of the Calder effects test, which is required to establish the first element of the 9th Circuit’s test for the exercise of specific personal jurisdiction.

"To satisfy the purposeful-direction element in cases in which tortious conduct is alleged by the plaintiff, the 9th Circuit requires that the actions of the nonresident defendant be purposefully directed at the forum based on an 'effects test that focuses on the forum in which the defendant’s actions were felt, whether or not the actions occurred within the forum,'" Cousins said.

The so-called Calder test requires that the nonresident defendant commit an intentional act, that was expressly aimed at the forum state and that caused harm that the nonresident defendant knew would likely be suffered in the forum state.

Facebook failed the second test, the federal court ruled, saying the social network "does not put forth factual allegations that suggest that confusion actually has occurred or that any of Facebook’s potential customers have been sidetracked to Faceporn’s website as a result of defendants’ conduct."

Facebook sued defendant Thomas Pedersen, of Bergen, Norway, and company Retro Invent, which ran the Faceporn.com site (the site currently redirects to tube site Faceporn.no.).

Facebook served Pedersen and Retro Invent using the Hague Convention on service abroad of judicial documents and later moved for default judgment.

Facebook has two weeks to respond to Cousins' ruling.