(CN) - A company that sells paintball-like projectiles to cops should not have won a trademark case because it filed suit in the wrong venue, the 7th Circuit ruled.
None of the allegedly infringing actions happened in Indiana, where a federal judge ruled in favor of Advanced Tactical Ordnance Systems LLC, the appeals court found.
Advanced Tactical's PepperBall projectiles are balls "filled with a pepper-spray-like irritant" and are sold mostly to police departments and private security firms, according to the ruling.
The projectile-maker sued Real Action Paintball Inc. and its president K.T. Tran in 2012, alleging violations of the Lanham Act and common-law trademark infringement after Real Action starting selling similar irritant projectiles on its website.
Advanced Tactical argued that its home state of Indiana constituted proper jurisdiction because Real Action was doing business there via its website "capable of accepting orders from citizens of Indiana," the 7th Circuit explained.
A federal judge in Fort Wayne held an evidentiary hearing on the subject, deemed personal jurisdiction was proper, and granted Advanced Tactical judgment on the trademark-infringement claims.
But the Chicago-based appeals court reversed and remanded for dismissal on May 9, ruling that Real Action did not have "the necessary minimum contacts with Indiana to support specific jurisdiction."
"Having an 'interactive website' (which hardly rules out anything in 2014) should not open a defendant up to personal jurisdiction in every spot on the planet where that interactive website is accessible," Judge Diane Wood wrote for a three-member panel.
Real Action was not specifically advertising to or targeting the Indiana market.
"The fact that Real Action maintains an email list to allow it to shower past customers and other subscribers with company-related emails does not show a relation between the company and Indiana," Wood wrote. "As a practical matter, email does not exist in any location at all."