We continue our Forward into the Past reconnoiter of Internet law with Zippo dot com, a WD of Pennsylvania decision which seemed to authoritatively resolve the question of what is the proper test for evaluating whether a defendant’s contacts with a forum over the internet are sufficient for asserting specific jurisdiction over that defendant.

The three-part active-to-passive Zippo Dot Com sliding scale:

“At one end of the spectrum are situations where a defendant clearly does business over the Internet, an active website.” . .  “If the defendant enters into contracts with residents of a foreign jurisdiction that involve the knowing and repeated transmission of computer files over the Internet, then personal jurisdiction is proper.”

“At the opposite end are situations where a defendant has simply posted information on an Internet website which is accessible to users in foreign jurisdictions.” . . .  “A passive website that does little more than make information available to those who are interested in it is not grounds for the exercise of personal jurisdiction.”

“The middle ground is occupied by interactive websites where a user can exchange information with the host computer.”. . . “In these cases, the exercise of jurisdiction is determined by examining the level of interactivity and commercial nature of the exchange of information that occurs on the website.”

Link to text of decision in Zippo Mfg v Zippo Dot Com

Wikipedia’s Personal Jurisdiction on the Internet Page