McBride Law Blog

When Can I Reasonably Anticipate Being Haled into Court in Another State? (Part I)

McBride Law Blog

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A recent federal circuit case, Perdue Foods LLC v. BRF S.A., deals with the issue of personal jurisdiction– the power of a court over the parties in the case.[1]  The case involved Perdue Holdings, Inc. (“Perdue”), an international food company based in Maryland, and BRF S.A. (“BRF”), an international food company based in Brazil.  Perdue and BRF were concerned about potential consumer confusion between their similar trademarks, PERDUE and PERDIX, so the two companies entered into an agreement basically to divide the global chicken market into their respective trademark territories.  The agreement also included a choice-of-law clause specifying that Maryland law would apply to any disputes relating to the agreement.  BRF signed the agreement in Brazil and Perdue in Maryland.  Between 2012 and 2014, Perdue bought some chicken from BRF by sending purchase orders from and receiving invoices in Maryland but directed the chicken to be shipped from Brazil to Tanzania.  This is about all the connection that BRF had to Maryland.

In late 2014, Perdue sued BRF in Maryland, alleging that BRF breached the agreement by pursuing new applications for trademark registrations in certain territories where it should not.  BRF sought to dismiss the lawsuit for lack of personal jurisdiction.  The lower court found that BRF did not have the requisite minimum contacts (which we will explain later) with Maryland.  Thus, the court held that it lacked personal jurisdiction over BRF and dismissed the suit.

This post was part of a multi-part series on personal jurisdiction.  In our next post, we will discuss the appeals court’s decision.

This posting is intended to be a planning tool to familiarize readers with some of the high-level issues discussed herein.  This is not meant to be a comprehensive discussion and additional details should be discussed with your transaction planners including attorneys, accountants, consultants, bankers and other business planners who can provide advice for your circumstances.  This article should not be treated as legal advice to any person or entity.

Steps have been taken to verify the contents of this article prior to publication.  However, readers should not, and may not, rely on this article.  Please consult with counsel to verify all contents and do not rely solely on this article in planning your legal transactions.

 

[1] See generally Perdue Foods LLC v. BRF S.A., No. 14-2120 (4th Cir. Feb. 19, 2016).  Unless otherwise noted, all references to the case are from this citation.

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