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Steuben Foods, Inc v. Oystar Usa

May 18, 2012

STEUBEN FOODS, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
OYSTAR USA, INC., ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny Chief Judge United States District Court

DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, Steuben Foods, Inc. ("Steuben), brings this patent infringement action against eight related defendants.*fn1 Two groups of defendants each presently move for dismissal. (Docket Nos. 24, 37.) The first group consists of Oystar Group, Oystar North America-Edison, Inc. ("Oystar N.A."), Oystar USA, Inc., Oystar Hamba, and Hamba Filltec. The second group is comprised of Hamba USA, Inc., Aseptic Innovation, Inc., and GTP Companies, Ltd. ("GTP").*fn2 For the following reasons, each of the motions to dismiss are denied.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

Steuben alleges that Defendants violated six patents pertaining to the equipment and processes for the aseptic bottling and packaging of consumable food and drink products. Steuben contends that each of these defendants are potentially liable due to some association with Oystar Group. Steuben alleges that despite their separate identities, each company is owned by, controlled by, a subsidiary of, identical to, or doing business as Oystar Group, their alleged parent, which is headquartered in Stutensee, Germany. (Am. Compl., ¶¶ 44-79; Docket No. 23.)

Steuben asserts that Defendants conduct business in New York and have engaged in actual, induced, and contributory infringement. It further asserts that it sent written notice to Oystar USA, Inc. on November 18, 2008, notifying Defendants about the existence of its patents. (Id., ¶ 104.) Defendants allegedly never acknowledged receipt of that notice. (Id., ¶ 105)

B. Procedural History

Steuben filed a complaint in this Court on September 29, 2010. (Docket No. 1.) With leave, on August 30, 2011, it later filed an amended complaint naming each of the present defendants. (Docket No. 23.) Shortly thereafter, on September 27, 2011, the Oystar Defendants moved for dismissal of the complaint. (Docket No. 24.) On December 2, 2011, the GTP Defendants followed suit. (Docket No. 37.) Briefing concluded on these motions on January 11, 2012, at which time this Court took the motions under consideration without a hearing on the issue of personal jurisdiction.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Oystar Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

The Oystar Defendants argue that this Court cannot exercise personal jurisdiction over them and that Steuben has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Each argument will be discussed below.

1. Personal Jurisdiction*fn3

A United States district court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant if the defendant "is subject to the jurisdiction of a court of general jurisdiction in the state where the district court is located." Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(k)(1)(A); Spiegel v. Schulmann, 604 F.3d 72, 76 (2d Cir.2010). Jurisdiction conferred by the state, however, is constrained by the Due Process Clause, which "gives a degree of predictability to the legal system that allows potential defendants to structure their primary conduct with some minimum assurance as to where that conduct will and will not render them liable to suit." See World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297, 100 S. Ct. 559, 567, 62 L. Ed. 2d 490 (1980); see also Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, --- U.S. ----, 131 S. Ct. 2846, 2851-52 180 L. Ed. 2d 796 (2011) ("A state court's assertion of jurisdiction exposes defendants to the State's coercive power, and is therefore subject to review for compatibility with the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause."). Thus, ...


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