V & S Vin & Sprit Aktiebolag v. Hanson, 146 F.Supp.2d 796 (E.D. Va. 2001) (full-text).
Factual Background Edit
Plaintiff, the Swedish corporation that manufactures ABSOLUT vodka, owned numerous federal trademark registrations for the mark ABSOLUT, including one covering clothing items. Defendants, owners of the Australian corporation Absolut Beach Party Limited, registered the domain names "absolutebeach.com" and "absolutbeach.com" and used those names to sell swimwear and beach apparel on the Internet. Defendants also sold their ABSOLUT beach products through mail-order catalogs. Defendants sold $550 of bathing suits to thirteen Virginia residents over a four-year period.
Trial Court Proceedings Edit
Plaintiff sued, asserting numerous claims, including federal trademark infringement, federal dilution, cybersquatting under the ACPA, and various Virginia state-law claims. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens.
In denying defendants' motion, the court held that plaintiff's private interests were "sufficiently strong" to defeat the motion. The plaintiff did most of its business in the United States, it owned U.S. trademark registrations, and it spent a substantial amount of money establishing name recognition in the United States. Although defendants' private interests were "very strong," the location of witnesses in Australia and the substantial cost of litigating in the U.S. were not sufficient to justify dismissal, which would simply transfer the inconvenience from one party to another. The public factors also favored plaintiff. Most notably, defendants did not show that an Australian court was an adequate alternative forum for litigating the matter. According to the court, the newness of Internet law and the lack of an Australian equivalent to the ACPA weighed in favor of plaintiff.
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