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LLC v. CeramTec GMBH

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

September 11, 2019

C5 MEDICAL WERKS, LLC and COORSTEK MEDICAL, LLC, Plaintiffs - Appellees,
v.
CERAMTEC GMBH, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Colorado (D.C. No. 1:14-CV-00643-RBJ-CBS)

          Jessica L. Ellsworth, Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP, Washington, D.C. (Clay C. James, Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP, Denver, Colorado; Anna Kurian Shaw, Sean Marotta, Katherine B. Wellington, Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP, Washington, D.C., with her on the briefs), for the Defendant-Appellant.

          Peter D. Vogl, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, New York, New York (Lisa T. Simpson, Christopher T. Cariello, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, New York, New York; Mark S. Davies, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Washington, D.C.; Diana Rutowski, Scott Lonardo, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Menlo Park, California; Michael J. Hoffman, Erin A. Kelly, Bryan Cave LLP, Denver, Colorado, with him on the brief), for the Plaintiffs-Appellees.

          Before HARTZ, PHILLIPS and EID, Circuit Judges.

          EID, Circuit Judge.

         Plaintiff-Appellee C5 Medical Werks sued Defendant-Appellant CeramTec in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado for cancellation of CeramTec's trademarks and a declaratory judgment of non-infringement. CeramTec moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The district court denied CeramTec's motion and, after a bench trial, found in favor of C5. CeramTec appealed both the district court's finding of personal jurisdiction and its determination on the merits.

         We conclude that the district court did not possess personal jurisdiction over CeramTec. We hold CeramTec's attendance at various tradeshows was fortuitous and, as such, was insufficient to show purposeful availment of the forum state, Colorado. Further, to the extent CeramTec engaged in enforcement activity, it did so outside of Colorado. Accordingly, we reverse the district court's denial of CeramTec's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and remand with instructions that the case be dismissed.

         I.

         CeramTec is a German company that produces ceramics and ceramic components for medical prostheses. These components use a ceramic composite called BIOLOX Delta. BIOLOX Delta contains 0.33% chromium, making it appear pink. C5 is a Delaware company headquartered in Grand Junction, Colorado. C5 also produces ceramic components for medical prostheses. C5's composite currently in use is called Cerasurf-p. Cerasurf-p also contains 0.33% chromium and also appears pink. Unlike C5, CeramTec has no physical presence in Colorado. At the time C5 filed this suit against CeramTec, CeramTec had no employees, officers, or customers in Colorado. Though CeramTec has no physical presence in Colorado, CeramTec has participated in three national industry conferences in Colorado, where it promoted its pink ceramic products.

         CeramTec at one time had a patent on the use of the chromium-based material in its ceramic medical implants. Shortly before the patent expired, CeramTec began an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to register the color pink for its hip joint components. The PTO denied CeramTec's application for a listing on the Principal Register but allowed the company to list its trademark on the Supplemental Register. After CeramTec's patent expired, other companies, including C5, began using a chromium composite in their ceramic components. In response, CeramTec made various attempts to enforce its trademark against C5's use of the color pink in its components. CeramTec seized C5's products from a tradeshow in Paris, France. CeramTec also sent a cease-and-desist letter to C5 in Colorado, objecting to C5's production of pink ceramic implants.

         In March 2014, C5 initiated the present lawsuit. C5 sought cancellation of CeramTec's trademarks in the PTO and a determination on the merits that C5's products do not infringe on CeramTec's trademarks. In May 2014, CeramTec moved to dismiss C5's complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. A month later, CeramTec filed a complaint against C5 in the District Court of Delaware, alleging trademark infringement, unfair competition, and deceptive trade practices. In the Colorado suit, the district court found it had personal jurisdiction over CeramTec. After a bench trial, the district court found in favor of C5 and granted C5's request for a declaration of non-infringement.

         On appeal, CeramTec argues that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction. It also challenges the district court's declaration that CeramTec has no trade dress rights in the color pink.

         II.

         This court reviews a personal jurisdiction ruling de novo. Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc. v. Heliqwest Int'l, Ltd., 385 F.3d 1291, 1296 (10th Cir. 2004). Factual findings made by the district court during a bench trial are reviewed for clear error, and its legal conclusions are reviewed de ...


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