Since 1961, plaintiff MetroMedia Company has used the Metromedia name in connection with a number of ventures, and owns several valid federal trademark registrations incorporating the name and mark METROMEDIA.
In 1992, defendant Ronald Cowan formed a company with Susan Conway, which was later converted to Metromedia, Inc. in 2010 and to a partnership named Metromedia Company in 2011.
Cowan purchased Conway’s share in the company in 2011 in return for a promissory note due in 2015 for $50,000. In 2012, Cowan formed Metromedia Broadcasting Corporation. The plaintiff had previously operated a radio broadcasting station through an entity with the same name.
The plaintiff alleged in its complaint that Cowan “duped” the principals of a third-party company into believing that they were entering into a business transaction with plaintiff. After learning of Cowan’s allegedly fraudulent conduct, the principals of the third-party discontinued the transaction.
On June 4, 2013, plaintiff MetroMedia Company filed a complaint in New York against defendant Ronald Cowan, alleging, inter alia, federal claims of trademark infringement and false designation of origin and requesting a preliminary injunction against Cowan. The defendant, appearing pro se, filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.
The court granted the plaintiff leave to conduct limited jurisdictional discovery concerning Cowan’s income for the purpose of establishing personal jurisdiction in New York.
In analyzing New York’s long-arm statute, the court found that it had no personal jurisdiction over Cowan because Cowan had not derived substantial revenue from interstate commerce. Among other arguments, the plaintiff contended that Cowan’s LinkedIn page represented that Cowan was the CTO and interim CEO of Metromedia in New York City, Secaucus, New Jersey and Mountain View, California.
However, Cowan argued that he received no compensation for those positions and that he had “clearly made no income from any of those markets as of yet.” The court agreed with Cowan, stating that while Cowan’s activities may constitute interstate commerce, they are insufficient to establish that such activities yielded substantial revenue.
Therefore, merely providing evidence of the company’s listed office locations on Cowan’s LinkedIn page, absent further evidence of substantial interstate revenue, was not enough to require Cowan to defend the lawsuit in New York.
This article was prepared by Shelby Knutson Bruce (email@example.com / +1 612 321 2207) is a lawyer in Norton Rose Fulbright’s Minneapolis intellectual property practice.