Federal Circuit IP
Jurisdiction under FRCP 4(k)(2) (Mandamus) In re Stingray IP Sols., LLC, (Fed. Cir. Jan 9, 2023)
Jurisdiction under FRCP 4(k)(2) (Mandamus) In re Stingray IP Sols., LLC, 56 F.4th 1379, 1381 (Fed. Cir. Jan 9, 2023) (Lourie, Taranto, Stark)
Mandamus to E.D. Tex. (Gilstrap, J.)
- Foreign defendants, TP-Link Technologies Co., Ltd. (China) and TP-Link Corporation Limited (Hong Kong), sought §1406 transfer, in the alternative, from the Eastern District of Texas to the Central District of California for lack of personal jurisdiction, asserting that their contacts with the United States did not establish personal jurisdiction in the Eastern District of Texas under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k)(2) because they consented to jurisdiction under Rule 4(k)(1) in the Central District of California.
- The Eastern District of Texas granted §1406 transfer upon finding that exercising Rule 4(k)(2) jurisdiction would not be proper because the defendants were amenable to suit in another district, the Central District of California.
- Plaintiff, Stingray IP Solutions, petitioned for writ a mandamus to undo transfer based on finding Rule 4(k)(2) inapplicable due to defendants’ unilateral, post-suit consent to jurisdiction in another district.
- Under narrow circumstances, mandamus may be used when an appellate court corrects a district court’s answers to basic, undecided legal questions important to the proper administration of judicial administration. And, when issued for this reason, petitioner need not also satisfy that Cheney standard (e., (1) that there are no other adequate means to attain the relief, (2) the right to issuance of the writ is clear and indisputable, and (3) the writ is appropriate under the circumstances).
- Resolving whether a defendant may avoid the determination of personal jurisdiction under Rule 4(k)(2) by unilaterally consenting to jurisdiction in a particular district—and, thereby, invoking Rule 4(k)(1) is a basic, undecided legal questions important to the proper administration of judicial administration.
- Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k)(2) applies when a “defendant is not subject to jurisdiction in any state’s courts of general jurisdiction.”
- In Merial Ltd. v. Cipla Ltd. (681 F.3d 1283 (Fed. Cir. 2012)), the Federal Circuit clarified that application of Rule 4(k)(2) is only avoided by “identifying a forum where […] jurisdiction would have been proper at the time of filing, regardless of consent.”
- In re Stingray confirms reasoning in Merial, to negate Rule 4(k)(2) a defendant must identify a jurisdiction that would have been proper at the time of filing, regardless of consent, and “[a] defendant […] cannot simply use a unilateral statement of consent to preclude application of Rule 4(k)(2) and achieve transfer into a forum it considers more convenient.” (internal quotation marks omitted).
Result – Section 1406 order vacated for further determination of whether defendants can show that they would have been amenable to Rule 4(k)(1) jurisdiction in the Central District of California absent consent or to consider §1404 transfer as appropriate.