TY INC. V. CLARK (2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 383)

Summary prepared by Devashish Bharuka
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Ty Inc filed this action for trademark infringement, unfair competition, trademark dilution, common law trademark infringement, consumer fraud and deceptive business and trade practices, against defendant Clark.

Ty Inc is a Delaware corporation. It is the creator of the world famous plush stuffed toys named "Beanie Babies". Ty markets these Beanie Babies throughout the world and sells them through authorized dealers. One aspect of Tys's marketing strategy for Beanie Babies and related products is Ty's web site on the Internet, which containes the domain names, "www.beaniebabies.com" and "www.ty.com".

Expedient I.T.Solutions Ltd ("EIS") is a private English corporation with its principal place of business in Cheshire, England. Max Clark ("Clark") has the primaru responsibility for the control, management, operation and maintenance of the affairs of EIS. EIS and Clark acquired a registraation for the Internet domain name "beaniebabiesuk.com" and established an Internet web site where they offer for sale, among other things, majority of Ty's Beanie Babies toy products. They also market and offer for sale on the web site a variety of British products, like, candies, baskets, etc. Web site provides a price list of all the Beanie Babie models they offer. Additional information about any product can be obtained through e-mail. Defendants do not take orders over the web site itself. Instead, consumers must print out a order form on the web site and then, either fax, telephoe, or send their order to ESI.

After discussion the State of Illinois' long-arm jurisdiction and constitutional limitations relating to general and specific jurisdiction, the Court turned to the Zippo Sliding Scale. It found that the present case falls in the "middle ground" of the sliding scale model of Zippo. The court took notice of Mink v. AAAA Development where, under extremely similar situation, it was held that personal jurisdiction could not be exercised over the defendant through its web site. There are two reasons for it: (1) the only exchange of information over the web site was informational e-mails between consumers and the company; (2) the web site did not allow consumers to order or purchase products or services online.

The court found that personal jurisdiction over the defendants based upon the presence of their web site is not appropriate. The case was dismissed for want of personal jurisdiction.