Melanie Chernoff | As Public Policy Manager for Red Hat, Inc., Melanie monitors, evaluates, and works to influence U.S. and international legislation and government regulations affecting open source technologies and open standards. She also serves as chair of the company's Corporate Citizenship committee, coordinating Red Hat's charitable activities.
| Follow @melaniechernoff
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Excellent question. In matters of consumer protection, most state courts generally hold that an out-of-state business soliciting a target within a state has "purposefully availed himself of the privilege of doing business in the state" and can be sued. There may be some question, however, regarding whether a single demand letter to an in-state target would meet the "minimum contacts" requirement for personal jurisdiction to be exercised over an out-of-state company. This was one of the arguments that MPHJ tried to make in its motion to have the Vermont case dismissed. They were unsuccessful, but there is always the possibility that other state courts may see it differently.
Some states are therefore addressing that issue explicitly in their proposed legislation to avoid any ambiguity. For example, the NC bill states, "[A]ny person who has delivered or sent a demand to a target in North Carolina has purposefully availed himself or herself of the privileges of conducting business in this State and shall be subject to suit in this State, whether or not the person is transacting or has transacted any other business in this State."