Motus, LLC v. CarData Consultants, Inc. (D. Mass. 20-cv-10665).

  • February 26, 2021

Motus sued CarData, accusing CarData of using its CORPORATE REIMBURSEMENT SERVICES trademark in CarData’s “meta title” (which Motus defines as the HTML code in the header of a web page that helps search engines understand the content of the page). Motus was formerly known as Corporate Reimbursement Services, Inc., and says that it still uses the mark in connection with its workforce management business. Judge Gorton granted CarData’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. CarData, a Canadian corporation headquartered in Ontario, has offices in Colorado and New York, but no locations in Massachusetts. Motus did not allege that CarData had a physical presence in Massachusetts or any clients in the state. Judge Gorton noted that, where no evidentiary hearing had taken place, the Court applies a prima facie standard of review and construes the factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, but the complaint still must provide more than unsupported evidence to demonstrate the existence of personal jurisdiction. Motus relied primarily on a website run by CarData that was available to residents of Massachusetts. Judge Gorton looked to case law that finds cases involving interactions through a website operated outside of Massachusetts focus primarily on the “purposeful availment” portion of the jurisdictional analysis, namely that the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant’s website contacts represent a purposeful availment of the privileges of conducting activities in the state. This is determined by evaluating the level of interactivity of the website, looking for something more than merely a nationally available website to support personal jurisdiction. The “something more” can be whether the sire specifically targets Massachusetts residents or whether the website results in the knowing receipt of substantial revenue from Massachusetts residents. Here, the “something more” was absent – Motus had put forth no evidence supporting either prong, and the mere presence in state of the trademark holder was not sufficient to confer personal jurisdiction over the foreign defendant, particularly given that there was no evidence that CarData was even aware that Motus resided in Massachusetts. Accordingly, Motus’ complaint was dismissed without prejudice.

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