Case of the Day: EFF v. Global Equity Management

The case of the day is Electronic Frontier Foundation v. Global Equity Management (SA) Pty Ltd. (N.D. Cal. 2017). EFF publishes “Stupid Patent of the Month” articles on its website, focusing its fire on what it says are questionable patents used to stifle innovation. Global Equity was the owner of a US patent that drew EFF’s fire. Global Equity, an Australian company, accused EFF of defamation and sued in the Supreme Court of South Australia. EFF did not appear in the case, and the South Australian court entered an injunction requiring EFF to remove the supposedly defamatory post from the internet.

EFF then brought an action against Global Equity in California, seeking a declaration that the Australian injunction is unenforceable in the United States under the SPEECH Act. Global Equity did not appear, and EFF sought a default judgment.

Although personal jurisdiction is a waivable affirmative defense, the judge did a fairly searching personal jurisdiction analysis and held that EFF was not entitled to an injunction because the court lacked personal jurisdiction. Global Equity’s only connection with the Northern District of California was with EFF rather than with “California itself.” I’m not sure exactly what this means, since EFF is in California. Possibly EFF will seek review of the magistrate judge’s decision by the district judge. But in any case, at the moment EFF will have to wait until Global Equity tries to enforce its injunction in the United States before it can make its arguments, even though it is almost certainly right on the merits.

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