Inset Sys. v. Instruction Set
937 F. Supp. 161; 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7160; 155 A.L.R. Fed. 745

Summary prepared by Devashish Bharuka
For the full version of the case, click here

Inset, a Connecticut corpn., develops and markets computer software. ISI, a Massachusetts corpn., provides computer technology and support with no offices or business in Connecticut on a regular basis. Inset filed for registration as the owner of the federal trademark INSET. Thereafter, ISI obtained "INSET.COM" as its Internet domain address. ISI also uses the telephone number "1-800-US-INSET". Inset filed this action.

Advertisement over Internet and other media:
1) If a company uses a domain which is identical to the name or trademark of a company, an internet user may inadvertently access an unintended company. Thereafter, the Internet user may not realize that the advertisement is actually from an unintended company, or the Internet user may erroneously  assume that the source of information is the intended company.

2) Unlike television and radio, in which advertisements are broadcast at certain times only, or newspapers in which advertisements are disposed of quickly, advertisements over the Internet are available to Internet users continually, at the stroke of a few keys for a computer.

Court Analysis

1) Connecticut Long-Arm Statute provides for satisfaction of personal jurisdiction "if the corporation has repeatedly so solicited business, whether the orders or offers relating thereto were accepted within or without the state ..."
Inset argues that ISI has repeatedly solicited busines within Connecticut via its Internet advertisement and the availability of its toll-free number. After reviewing cases where six ads over a six-month period and 30 publications over a year and a half was considered to satisfy personal jurisdiction requirement, the Court observed that ISI has been continuously advertising over the Internet, which includes at least 10,000 access sites in Connecticut and furthermore, those electronic advertisements can be accessed again and again by many more potential consumers. The Court concluded that advertising via the Internet is solicitation of a sufficient repetitive nature to satisfy the provision of the statute.

2) Minimum Contacts: Plaintiff argues that minimum contacts has been satisfied because the defendant has used the Internet, as well as its toll-free number to try to conduct business within the state of Connecticut. The Court observed that advertisement on the Internet can reach as many as 10,000 Internet users within Connecticut alone. Further, once posted on the Internet, unlike television and radio advertising, the advertsement is available continuously to any Internet user. ISI has therefore purposefully availed itself of the privilege of doing business within Connecticut and could have reasonably anticipated being haled into the courts here.

3) Fair Play and Substantial Justice: The factors to be considered are "the relative burdens on the plaintiff and defendant of litigating the suit in this or another forum, the forum state's interest in adjudicating the dispute, and the interstate judicial system's interest in efficient resolution of controversies". In the present case, the distance between Connecticut and Massachusetts is minimal. Connecticut has in interest in adjudicating the dispute. Adjudication in Connecticut would dispose of this matter efficiently. Therefore, the Court concludes that its finding of minimum contacts in this case comports with notions of fair play and substantial justice.

Held, there is personal jurisdiction.