Uncle Sam's Safari Outfitters, Inc. v. Uncle Sam's Army Navy Outfitters-Manhattan, Inc.
96 F. Supp. 2d 919; 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6523

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

Plaintiff brought suit against defendant for trademark infringement and unfair competition. Defendants moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, claiming that they lack the requisite minimum contacts with the state of Missouri.

In support of their motion to dismiss, defendants argued that they have not purposefully availed themselves of the benefits and protections of Mussouri law. Defendants asserted that their Internet web site was currently under construction and was not taking any on-line orders; that as of the hearing date the only orders taken over teh telephone had been from within the State of New York; and that they had added a disclaimer to the web site which states that their merchandise is not available for sale in the State of Missouri.

Plaintiff argues that defendants had sufficient contacts with Missouri to satisfy due process. It argued that, by virtue of their Internet web site defendants seek customers from across the country; in the future it will be possible to order items from the on-line catalogue and the displayed toll-free telephone numeber.

Although defendant's web site is available to anyone with Internet access, the mere operation of a web site, without "something more", is clearly insufficient as a basis for exercising personal jurisdiction. The Court held that the instant case falls into the middle of Zippo's spectrum. Defendants operated a potentially interactive web site due to its future on-line ordering capabilities. However, defendents were clearly not doing business over the Internet at that time. The nature, quality and quantity of the contacts generated by the web site were minimal. There was no evidence that anyone from Missouri accessed the web site, let along attempted to purchase anything over the telephone using the toll-free number provided. Plaintiff was concerned that those who accessed the site might confuse defendant's Uncle Sam's Army Navy Outfitters with its own Uncle Sam's Safari Outfitters. Therefore, if there were significant contacts with the State of Missouri, they would be related to the cause of action. However, no evidence of such contacts was submitted by the plaintiff.

Though Missouri had an interest in resolving the case because a Missouri corporation's trademark is allegedly being infringed, it was held that this alone cannot be a sufficient basis for personal jurisdiction when the requisite contacts are lacking.

Held, there is no personal jurisdiction.