ALF Urges Supreme Court To Decide Where Online Sellers Can Be Sued

Where can a company that offers its products nationwide—either directly through its own interactive website, or indirectly through a third-party online platform such as Amazon—be sued? This is the important, recurring, Internet-age, personal jurisdiction question that the petitioners in Photoplaza, Inc. v. Herbal Brands, Inc., No. 23-504,  are asking the Supreme Court to decide.

The certiorari petition explains that the Ninth Circuit held in Photoplaza, a trademark infringement case, that personal jurisdiction over an online seller can be exercised in any and every State to which its products have been shipped. The Second and Seventh Circuit have issued similar rulings, but the Fifth and Eighth Circuits have held that nationwide shipping alone is insufficient to establish that an online seller “expressly aimed” its product at the forum State for jurisdictional purposes.

ALF has filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to grant review and apply its well-established “minimum contacts” due process principles for exercise of case-specific personal jurisdiction over online sellers of products. ALF’s brief was featured in a Law360 article on December 16, 2023.

Issue Areas:

Free Enterprise

Read the Amicus Brief:
Question(s) Presented:

Whether a seller whose products ship nationwide is subject to personal jurisdiction in every forum into which even one of its products is shipped.

ALF’s Amicus Brief:

ALF’s amicus brief explains that by creating what is tantamount to nationwide personal jurisdiction over online sellers, the Ninth Circuit has facilitated forum shopping, i.e., enabling a plaintiff to file suit in a forum State that it believes will be sympathetic to its cause. Haling  corporate defendants into hostile courts by means of forum shopping undermines the due process to which they are entitled. Such forum shopping also harms consumers by forcing product  manufacturers to raise their prices, or if possible, even withdraw their products  from certain markets.


The certiorari petition was denied on January 22, 2024.


Email ALF Executive Vice President & General Counsel Lawrence Ebner.

Date Originally Posted: December 8, 2023

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