Did Defendants Purposely Direct Any Activity Towards Florida by Filing Patent Application Which Was Subsequently Granted by Pto ?
In Richards v. Sen, No. 07-14254-CIV, (S.D. Fla. Nov. 12, 2008), the plaintiffs brought suit for, inter alia, defamation, slander of title, and injurious falsehood claims. Id.
The plaintiffs' claims appeared to be based on the defendants' filing of a patent application that led to the Patent and Trademark Office's (PTO) issuance of a patent; the plaintiffs contended that the application tortiously omitted them as inventors or assignees. Id.
The federal district court stated that "Florida's long-arm statute enables the exercise of personal jurisdiction over a defendant for defamation, slander and libel claims when the injurious information or material is circulated or published to a third party within the state." Id.
Accordingly, the court held that, assuming that the statements were sufficient to support the alleged causes of action, "the PTO's publication of the patent on the internet is sufficient to permit the exercise of personal jurisdiction under the long-arm statute because publication of the allegedly injurious statements and omissions is an electronic communication accessible to Florida residents." Id. (citing 48.193(1)(b), Fla. Stat.; Wendt, 822 So. 2d at 1253).
The court concluded, however, that the exercise of jurisdiction would not comport with due process, because the defendants "did not have fair warning that filing the patent application, which led to the PTO's subsequent grant of the patent, would subject them to suit in Florida. . . . Defendants did not purposely direct any activity towards Florida by filing the patent application."