Virginia court finds jurisdiction despite little contact with state

In Graduate Management Administration Council v Raju (2003 US Dist LEXIS 979), the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has held that it has jurisdiction over Narashimha Raju, an Indian national, even though he has insufficient links with the state of Virginia. The court found that because Raju directed his website sales activity at the US market as a whole, it has federal jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 4(k)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Graduate Management Administration Council (GMAC) organizes a standardized test (known as the Graduate Management Administration Test or GMAT) for admission to business schools. GMAC claimed that (i) Raju's registration of the domain names 'gmatplus.com' and 'gmatplus.net' infringed its registered trademark GMAT, and (ii) the sale on Raju's websites of copies of GMAC's materials infringed its copyright. GMAC argued that the court had personal state jurisdiction as there were some links with the state of Virginia (ie, use of a testimonial from a Virginia customer and sales to at least two Virginia customers).

While the court held that the contacts with Virginia were insufficient to satisfy the minimum contacts requirement of the Due Process Clause of the US Constitution for general personal jurisdiction in Virginia, it found that Raju directed his website activity to the United States as a whole. Therefore, ruled the court, it has personal jurisdiction over Raju pursuant to Rule 4(k)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Thomas M Small, Birch Stewart Kolasch & Birch LLP, Los Angeles

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