SNEHA MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT, LLC; NORD SINEW TECHNOLOGIES (I) PVT LTD., Plaintiffs - Appellants,
ASSOCIATED BROADCASTING COMPANY P LTD., Defendant-Appellee.
Argued: September 25, 2018
from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Virginia, at Alexandria. Leonie M. Brinkema,
District Judge. (1:16-cv-01386-LMB-MSN)
A. Somerville, HARMAN CLAYTOR CORRIGAN & WELLMAN, P.C.,
Glen Allen, Virginia, for Appellants.
Christopher Stephen Johns, JOHNS & COUNSEL, PLLC, Austin,
Texas, for Appellee.
Howell, ISAK HOWELL LAW OFFICE, Roanoke, Virginia; Zev Kusin,
JOHNS MARRS ELLIS & HODGE LLP, Austin, Texas, for
NIEMEYER, DIAZ, and FLOYD, Circuit Judges.
NIEMEYER, CIRCUIT JUDGE:
Media & Entertainment, LLC, a Virginia company, and Nord
Sinew Technologies (I) PVT Ltd., an Indian company, commenced
this action in the Eastern District of Virginia against
Associated Broadcasting Company, another Indian company, for
breach of contract and related causes of action arising from
a dispute over the plaintiffs' right to distribute in the
United States TV programming that Associated Broadcasting
produced in India. Associated Broadcasting filed a motion to
dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) for
lack of personal jurisdiction in Virginia, and the district
court granted the motion. Because Sneha and Nord failed to
demonstrate that Associated Broadcasting had the minimum
contacts with Virginia that are sufficient to satisfy the Due
Process Clause, we affirm.
Broadcasting is a news network in India that produces
around-the-clock news and current affairs broadcasts on its
TV9 channels for the Telugu, Kannada, and Gujarati speaking
peoples in India. It claims to be one of the fastest-growing
news networks in India. In 2009, it signed an agreement in
India with Nord, granting Nord the exclusive right to
distribute Associated Broadcasting's TV9 content anywhere
outside India. In turn, Nord entered into an agreement with
Sneha, granting it the right to distribute Associated
Broadcasting's TV9 content in North America and Europe.
Nord and Sneha are related insofar as Ramesh Annamreddy
serves as the CEO of both companies.
2011, Associated Broadcasting and Nord signed an addendum to
their agreement in which the parties recognized that Sneha
would be distributing TV9 content in the United States and
that Associated Broadcasting would not compete with Nord or
Sneha but that they would "work together" to
maximize returns under their original contract.
years later, Sneha entered into an agreement with DISH
Network in the United States to deliver Associated
Broadcasting's TV9 content over DISH's satellite
network. When, however, Associated Broadcasting represented
to DISH that it possessed the exclusive rights to TV9
content, Sneha and Nord commenced this action, alleging that
Associated Broadcasting breached its distribution contract
with Nord, interfered with Sneha's alleged contract with
DISH Network, and violated Sneha and Nord's federal
copyright interests in TV9 content.
Broadcasting filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for lack
of personal jurisdiction. The district court scheduled a
hearing and, after the parties filed affidavits, exhibits,
and memoranda of law relating to the motion, the court
conducted the hearing, at which it granted the motion. The
court concluded that the minimal contacts that Associated
Broadcasting had with Virginia were not the type of
"purposeful contacts with the forum that would allow the
court to exercise jurisdiction over it."
Broadcasting presented evidence that it entered into a
contract only with Nord, that it did so in India, and that it
did not have a contractual relationship with Sneha. It also
presented evidence that it was incorporated in India with its
principal place of business in Hyderabad, India, and that
"all of [its] employees, officers, and directors are
based in its Indian offices." It ...