Capitol Commission, Inc. v. Capitol Ministries, 826 F. Supp. 2d 879 (E.D.N.C. 2011)
Capitol Commission (CCI) and Capitol Ministries (CM) are both organizations that work with the legislative community to offer ministerial programs for those working in state capitols. Prior to its formation in 2009, the founders of CCI had a relationship with CM. When the relationship ended, CCI broke off and formed a new ministry, using “Capitol Commission” as its service mark. Since then, CCI used their service mark in conjunction with its ministry services and its website, www.capitolcom.org. In 2010, CM began using CCI’s service mark in CM’s own bible studies and on its blog. In addition, CM purchased several domain names using the CCI service mark and CM filed an intent-to-use trademark application for CCI’s mark. CCI filed suit, alleging unfair competition and violation of the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.
CM moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. CM argued that it had no ties to North Carolina other than through its website that was accessible to North Carolina internet users. The court rejected this argument, denying the motion to dismiss. Specifically, the court highlighted that CM maintained an office in North Carolina for nine years, between 2000 and 2009, and that the infringing conduct arose directly out of CCI and CM’s prior business relationship in North Carolina before their subsequent split. Thus, because CCI’s claims arose out of that history, the court did not need to consider the scope of CM’s internet contacts with the state in order to determine that CM availed itself to jurisdiction in North Carolina.
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