Interactive Website Personal Jurisdiction In Texas
In Texas, the continuum of Internet activities is divided into three categories for purposes of personal jurisdiction.
At one end of the scale, defendants who make contracts with residents of other jurisdictions that involve the knowing and repeated transmission of computer files electronically do business over the Internet. Jones v. Beech Aircraft, 995 S.W.2d 767, 771 (Tex. App.--San Antonio 1999, pet. dism'd w.o.j.).
At the other end of the scale, defendants who establish passive web sites that do no more than make information available to Internet users do not provide grounds for personal jurisdiction. Id.
In between lie interactive web sites, which allow users to exchange information with a host computer, communicating with the person or company that runs the web site.
In these cases, the exercise of jurisdiction depends on the level of interactivity between the parties on the web site. Id.
The existence of personal jurisdiction is a question of law, but proper exercise of that jurisdiction must sometimes be preceded by the resolution of underlying factual disputes.
We determine the appropriateness of the trial court's resolution of those disputes by an ordinary sufficiency of the evidence review based on the entire record. Conner v. ContiCarriers & Terminals, Inc., 944 S.W.2d 405, 411 (Tex. App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1997, no writ).
If the trial court's order is based on undisputed or otherwise established facts, we conduct a de novo review of the order. Id.
A defendant who challenges a court's exercise of personal jurisdiction through a special appearance carries the burden of negating all bases of personal jurisdiction. Kawasaki Steel Corp. v. Middleton, 699 S.W.2d 199, 203 (Tex. 1985); Siskind v. Villa Found. for Educ., Inc., 642 S.W.2d 434, 438 (Tex. 1982); Nikolai v. Strate, 922 S.W.2d 229, 236 (Tex. App.--Fort Worth 1996, writ denied); Hayes v. Wissel, 882 S.W.2d 97, 99 (Tex. App.--Fort Worth 1994, no writ).
When a trial court overrules a special appearance, the defendant should request findings of fact under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 296. Runnels v. Firestone, 746 S.W.2d 845, 849 (Tex. App.--Houston [14th Dist.]), writ denied per curiam, 760 S.W.2d 240 (Tex. 1988).
Because the trial court made no findings in this case, all facts necessary to support its judgment are implied. Worford v. Stamper, 801 S.W.2d 108, 109 (Tex. 1990); In re W.E.R., 669 S.W.2d 716, 716-17 (Tex. 1984); Runnells, 746 S.W.2d at 848.
When a complete reporter's record exists, however, these implied findings are not conclusive and an appellant may challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to support them. Roberson v. Robinson, 768 S.W.2d 280, 281 (Tex. 1989).
When such points are raised, the standard of review to be applied is the same as that to be applied in the review of jury findings or a trial court's findings of fact. Id.