Digest of Celgard, LLC v. SK Innovation Co. Ltd., No. 2014-1807 (Fed. Cir. July 6, 2015) (precedential). On appeal from W.D N.C. Before Newman, Reyna, and Wallach.
Procedural Posture: Plaintiff-Appellant Celgard, LLC appealed the dismissal of its patent infringement suit due to the lack of personal jurisdiction over Defendant-Appellee SKI under either a purposeful-direction theory or a stream-of-commerce theory. The Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal.
- Burden of Proof: The district court was correct when it determined that Celgard only needed to prove the existence of personal jurisdiction under a prima facie standard. When no jurisdictional hearing is held and the court’s determination is based on affidavits and other written materials, a prima facie standard usually applies. A preponderance standard can apply when there is no hearing, but only when the jurisdictional facts are not in dispute. Since the parties disputed jurisdictional facts in this case, the prima facie standard applied.
- Personal Jurisdiction: The district court did not err in finding that there was no personal jurisdiction over SKI because SKI did not have the required minimum contacts with the forum state needed to satisfy due process. SKI is a Korean manufacturer of separators and lithium-ion batteries using the separators. It supplies its products to third-party manufacturers and has all of its design manufacturing and sales operations in Korea. Celgard failed to present evidence showing that SKI purposefully directed its activities to the forum state. While SKI did enter into an agreement with Kia in Korea, and two Kia dealers in the forum state issued advertisements suggesting that vehicles including SKI batteries would be on sale in the forum state, Celgard did not point to any evidence that the dealers were operating as SKI’s agents or alter egos. Instead, the third party dealers appeared to be acting unilaterally, and such unilateral actions cannot give rise to personal jurisdiction over SKI. Celgard’s stream-of-commerce theory was also insufficient to give rise to personal jurisdiction. Here, Celgard simply submitted evidence indicating that SKI’s customers’ products are in the forum state and testing results are “consistent with the use” of SKI’s batteries in those products. But, this does not show that SKI’s products are even actually present in the forum state, let alone that it was foreseeable to SKI that its products would be marketed in the forum state as would be required to give rise to personal jurisdiction.