California Love: Jenner’s Lawsuit Successfully Transferred to California

All she does is win!

Alabama-based cosmetics company, Sheree Cosmetics, (“SC”), sued Kylie Jenner in October of last year for trademark infringement, false endorsement, and unfair competition. The initial complaint was filed in New York; however, the venue has now been transferred to California. SC claims Jenner infringed on its “born to sparkle” mark. Jenner’s attorney asked for the court to dismiss this claim for failure to state a claim and also asked for the entire lawsuit to be transferred to California. Ultimately the lawsuit was transferred to California based on venue and personal jurisdictional reasons (see below for more in depth legal analysis on the matter). SC has sought leave to amend its complaint, and Judge Caprioni believes a ruling on the merits should be reversed by the California judge.Below is an analysis on both venue and personal jurisdiction over Jenner’s claim. In sum, I believe venue in California is proper both for convenience to the parties and for Jenner’s minimum business contacts in California.

Venue is inappropriate when the venue in the complaint is improper, no impartial trial could be held, no judge in the venue is qualified to act, or for convenience reasons. A balancing test must take place when considering to transfer the venue. This test consists of two factors: private factors and public factors. The private factors are ease of access to sources of proof, cost of obtaining attendance of witnesses, and availability of compulsory process for unwilling witnesses. Jenner and her business is based out of California and her products are in the California marketplace. The public interest factors are avoidance of overburdening local courts, protecting interests of potential jurors so they are deciding cases of concern to local community, and weighing interest of California and alterative jurisdiction (New York). The only real reason the lawsuit was filed in New York was because this is where SC’s firm is located. California is the proper venue.

There are two approaches to finding personal jurisdiction: the traditional approach and the modern approach. The traditional approach consists of four items: (1) the defendant consents to the forum, (2) the defendant makes a general appearance in the forum, (3) the defendant is domiciled in the forum, and (4) the defendant is served with process in the forum. The modern approach can lead to general jurisdiction or specific jurisdiction, depending on the defendant’s activities in the forum. For a court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction to comport with Due Process, the defendant must have sufficient minimum contacts with the forum, there must be a substantial nexus between the cause of action and the defendant’s activities in the forum, and the exercise of jurisdiction should not offend notions of social justice and fair play. Jenner does business in California, the cause of action is based on a product in California’s marketplace, and California as the proper forum does not offend notions of social justice and fair play.

Stay tuned to find out how the court rules on the trademark infringement claim brought against Jenner, as this dispute is ongoing.

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