In Halo Creative & Design Ltd. v. Comptoir Des Indes Inc., Appeal No. 2015-1375, the Federal Circuit held that the district court erred by dismissing the case under forum non conveniens in favor of a Canadian court.
Halo’s suit alleged copyright, trademark, and design-patent infringement as well as state consumer fraud and deceptive business practices. The district court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens and determined that the Federal Court of Canada would be a superior forum. The district court determined that the Federal Court of Canada was adequate because: (1) Canada was a signatory to the Berne convention (an international agreement governing copyright), and (2) it was possible that Canadian courts could apply U.S. copyright law.
The Federal Circuit reversed because there was insufficient evidence that Canada was an adequate forum. The Federal Circuit noted that intellectual property rights are territorial, and Canada would not be able to provide redress for violations of U.S. trademarks and patents, which the district court failed to analyze. Regarding Halo’s copyright infringement claims, Canada’s participation in the Berne convention only requires that authors in other countries receive the same protection as Canada provides its own authors; it has no requirement that Canada provide a remedy for U.S. infringement.