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Filaser, Inc. v. Kinestral Technologies, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division.

June 27, 2014

FILASER, INC., a Canadian corporation registered to do business in Oregon, Plaintiff,
v.
KINESTRAL TECHNOLOGIES, INC., a Delaware corporation, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

MICHAEL W. MOSMAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff FiLaser, Inc. seeks a declaratory judgment that Defendant Kinestral has no right or interest in a license to Plaintiff's technology. (Am. Compl. [29] at 6.) Defendant moved to dismiss [31] the Amended Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), arguing that the District of Oregon does not have personal jurisdiction over Kinestral in this matter. I GRANT Defendant's motion and dismiss the complaint with prejudice. Because this court lacks personal jurisdiction over Defendant Kinestral, I do not reach Defendant's motion to dismiss for improper venue or alternative request for transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1404.

BACKGROUND

FiLaser, Inc. is a Canadian corporation with its principal place of business in Ontario, Canada. (Def.'s Req. for Jud. Notice [31-3] Ex. A.)[1] Kinestral is a Delaware corporation with its principal and only place of business in California. (Bergh Decl. [31-1] ¶ 2.)

Plaintiff filed the original complaint [1] in this case on March 3, 2014. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss [19] substantively identical to the one currently under consideration on March 31 and filed answers and counterclaims [20] on the same day. FiLaser filed the First Amended Complaint [29] on April 21, leading this court to deny [32] Kinestral's then-mooted March 31 motion to dismiss. Kinestral's Motion to Dismiss [31] the First Amended Complaint is now pending before the Court.

FiLaser and Kinestral entered into a contract-the Master Services Agreement ("MSA")-effective November 15, 2012. (First Am. Compl. [29-1] Ex. 1 at 1.) The MSA provided for Kinestral to exercise a nonexclusive license to certain technology owned by FiLaser. Id. at 2. The MSA also gave Kinestral the option to convert that nonexclusive license into an exclusive one. Id. at 2-3.

Pursuant to the MSA, Kinestral was required to direct any correspondence to FiLaser to an address in Portland, Oregon. Id. at 6. On January 29, 2014, Kinestral sent a letter to FiLaser's Portland address communicating its intent to exercise its contractual option to convert the nonexclusive license under the MSA into an exclusive one. (Def.'s Req. for Jud. Notice [31-4] Ex. B.) On February 25, 2014, Kinestral wired a contractual payment "to an entity other than Plaintiff in Portland."[2] (First Am. Compl. [29] ¶ 5.) On March 26, 2014, Kinestral mailed a payment to FiLaser in Portland, Oregon. Id. FiLaser asks this court to enter a declaratory judgment that Kinestral has no right or interest in a license to the relevant technology. Id. at 6.

LEGAL STANDARDS

A district court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant where the defendant has "purposefully established minimum contacts' in the forum State." Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 474 (1985) (quoting International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). Minimum contacts exist when a defendant performed "some act or consummate[d] some transaction with the forum... by which he purposefully avail[ed] himself of the privilege of conducting activities in the forum." Doe v. Unocal Corp., 248 F.3d 915, 923 (9th Cir. 2001) (quoting Gordy v. Daily News, L.P., 95 F.3d 829, 831-32 (9th Cir. 1996)).

"Where a defendant moves to dismiss... for lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating that jurisdiction is appropriate." Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797, 800 (9th Cir. 2004). When a district court rules on a 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss relying only on affidavits and without holding an evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff must make a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction. Dist. Council No. 16 of Int'l Union of Painters & Allied Trades, Glaziers, Architectural Metal & Glass Workers, Local 1621 v. B & B Glass, Inc., 510 F.3d 851, 855 (9th Cir. 2007). The district court will assume the truth of uncontroverted allegations in the complaint. Ochoa v. J.B. Martin & Sons Farms, Inc., 287 F.3d 1182, 1187 (9th Cir. 2002).

ANALYSIS

I. The Motion Is Not Precluded by the Law of the Case

FiLaser asks the court to deny the present motion, arguing that it is precluded by the law of the case doctrine. (Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. [34] at 5.) FiLaser contends that this court's April 30 denial [32] of the Defendant's first, substantively identical motion to dismiss [19] the original complaint controls Kinestral's new motion to dismiss the amended complaint. Id.

FiLaser's interpretation of the law of the case doctrine is incorrect. In order for a motion to be precluded under the doctrine, the previous dismissal must have decided the issue on the merits. Hall v. City of Los Angeles, 697 F.3d 1059, 1067 (9th Cir. 2012). This court's denial of Kinestral's first motion to dismiss was a procedural clarification and was not made on the merits. The initial motion [19] had been mooted by the filing of an amended complaint. This court has yet to decide on the merits whether Defendant ...


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