Signazon Corp. (“Signazon”) has brought trademark and copyright infringement allegations against Craig Nickelson (“Nickelson”)1 in connection with Nickelson’s business and website, ebuysigns.com. Nickelson moved to dismiss, claiming that he lacked sufficient contacts in the Commonwealth for the Court to have personal jurisdiction over him. The Court (Stearns, D.J.) denied Nickelson’s motion.
In its brief opinion, the Court focused on a single question—whether an interactive website like the one owned and operated by Nickelson, which is located outside of Massachusetts but which Massachusetts residents can (and are invited to) access, satisfies the “purposeful availment test.” The Court noted that this is a question that the First Circuit has not completely addressed, but it nonetheless applied the often-cited test articulated in Zippo Mfg. Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, Inc., 952 F. Supp. 2d 1119 (W.D. Pa. 1997). That test ultimately turns on the level of the website’s interactivity and the commercial nature of the information exchange that occurs on the website. The Court concluded that Nickelson “clearly falls on the far end of the Zippo spectrum as one who does business actively over the internet in Massachusetts by soliciting customers indiscriminately.” Accordingly, the Court held that it had personal jurisdiction over Nickelson.