United States District Court, D. Delaware
UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS MEDICAL SCHOOL and CARMEL LABORATORIES, LLC, Plaintiffs,
L'OREAL S.A. and L'OREAL USA, INC., Defendants.
F. CONNOLLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
patent case, Defendant L'Oreal USA, Inc.
("L'Oreal USA") filed a motion to dismiss
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). D.I.
15. Defendant L'Oreal S.A. ("L'Oreal S.A.")
filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) and Rule
12(b)(2). D.I. 23. Both motions were referred to a Magistrate
Judge who recommended in a Report and Recommendation (D.I.
31) that the court (1) deny the motions insofar as they
sought dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), and (2) grant
L'Oreal S.A's motion insofar as it sought dismissal
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction
over L'Oreal S.A.
object to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation that the
court "grant L'Oreal S.A.'s Rule 12(b)(2) motion
to dismiss[, ]" D.I. 31 at 1, to the extent the
recommendation was based on the Magistrate Judge's
decision to "discredit[ ] Plaintiffs' argument that
L'Oreal U.S.A. is L'Oreal S.A.'s United States
agent for the purpose of designing and developing the accused
[infringing] products[J" D.I. 32 at 1. I review de novo
the findings to which Plaintiffs object.
jurisdiction analysis for patent claims is governed by
Federal Circuit law. Elecs. For Imaging, Inc. v.
Coyle, 340 F.3d 1344, 1348 (Fed. Cir. 2003). Whether to
grant jurisdictional discovery, however, is a question
governed by regional circuit law. See Autogenomics, Inc.
v. Oxford Gene Tech. Ltd., 566 F.3d 1012, 1021-22 (Fed.
Cir. 2009) ("We review the district court's denial
of [jurisdictional] discovery, an issue not unique to patent
law, for abuse of discretion, applying the law of the
regional circuit." (citations omitted)).
Federal Circuit law, in deciding whether personal
jurisdiction exists, "a district court must accept the
uncontroverted allegations in the plaintiffs complaint as
true and resolve any factual conflicts in [any] affidavits
[submitted by the parties] in the plaintiffs favor."
Coyle, 340 F.3d at 1349. When a motion to dismiss
for lack of personal jurisdiction is decided on the basis of
affidavits and other written materials in the absence of an
evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff need only make a prima
facie showing that a defendant is subject to the
court's jurisdiction. Id. To establish
jurisdiction under an agency theory, Plaintiffs "must
show that [L'Oreal S.A.] exercises control over the
activities of L'Oreal USA. Celgard, LLC v. SK
Innovation Co., Ltd., 792 F.3d 1373, 1379 (Fed. Cir.
Third Circuit law, "courts are to assist the plaintiff
by allowing jurisdictional discovery unless the plaintiffs
claim is 'clearly frivolous."' Toys
"R" Us, Inc. v. Step Two, S.A., 318 F.3d 446,
456 (3d Cir. 2003) (citation omitted). If a plaintiff
presents factual allegations that suggest with
"reasonable particularity" the possible existence
of personal jurisdiction over a defendant, then "the
plaintiff's right to conduct jurisdictional discovery
should be sustained." Id.
argue that the Magistrate Judge "brushed [ ] aside"
what Plaintiffs describe as "substantial evidence that
L'Oreal S.A. develops and sells the Accused Products in
the United States, and in Delaware, by designing and
developing the infringing Accused Products, which
[L'Oreal USA] then manufactures and distributes
here." D.I. 32 at 3-4. But the Magistrate Judge
expressly addressed and thoughtfully considered the evidence
proffered by Plaintiffs, see D.I. 31 at 21-24; and,
having reviewed the proffered evidence myself, I agree with
the Magistrate Judge that the evidence in question, even when
viewed most favorably for Plaintiffs, does not constitute
prima facia evidence, let alone substantial
evidence, that L'Oreal S.A. exercised control over
L'Oreal USA's manufacture and/or distribution of the
Accused Products in the United States.
agree with the Magistrate Judge's conclusion that
Plaintiffs have failed to suggest with reasonable
particularity that this Court may have personal jurisdiction
over L'Oreal S.A. See D.I. 31 at 24. "A
plaintiff may not [ ] undertake a fishing expedition based
only upon bare allegations, under the guise of jurisdictional
discovery." Eurofins Pharma U.S. Holdings v.
BioAlliance Pharma SA, 623 F.3d 147, 157 (3d Cir. 2010)
Plaintiffs' objection (D.I. 32) is OVERRULED; and, there
being no other objections to the Report and Recommendation,
the Report and Recommendation (D.I. 31) is ADOPTED. Defendant
L'Oreal USA, Inc.'s motion to dismiss (D.I. 15) is
DENIED. Defendant L'Oreal S.A.'S motion to dismiss
(D.I. 23) is GRANTED.