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A Website Does Not Contacts Make

One in 10 relationships now begins on an online dating site, and competition in the market is fierce. Recently, online dating site "be2.com" brought suit against the alleged cofounder and CEO of a competing site named "be2.net," based on the deceptive similarity of the site names. Unfortunately for be2.com, the court found that it lacked jurisdiction.

Factually, be2.com had brought suit in federal court in Illinois. When the principal of be2.net did not answer, the court granted be2.com a default judgment. At this point, the defendant appeared and argued that because he lived in New Jersey, he could not be sued in Illinois. The trial court disagreed, but the appellate court reversed on appeal.

The U.S. Constitution requires that there be minimum contacts between a defendant and a forum before the defendant can be sued there. In the business world, such contact usually requires the defendant to have tried to "purposely exploit" the market in a given forum for it to have jurisdiction over him. Although a website will allow a potential client to contact you from anywhere in the world, online accessibility alone is not enough to constitute contact with a given jurisdiction. Instead, the evidence must show that the defendant tried to "target" the jurisdiction's market.

In the be2.com case, the evidence showed that 20 people listing Chicago addresses had unilaterally registered their free dating profiles on be2.net. The court found these connections between be2.net and Illinois too "attenuated" to show that be2.net had tried to do business in Illinois, and nothing else showed a connection between the defendant and Illinois that would support the exercise of jurisdiction over him.

Because the defendant had not targeted Illinois for his business, the courts of Illinois lacked jurisdiction over him, and the judgment against him was reversed.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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