No personal jurisdiction over German software company

An Austin-based software developer sued a German software company for breach of contract and related torts.  Pervasive Software v. Lexware GMBH & Co., No. 11-50097 (July 20, 2012).  The Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the case for lack of personal jurisdiction, revisiting several key jurisdiction points for business relationships.  The Court held that the parties’ contracts alone would not create jurisdiction when the parties had no prior negotiations and did not envision “continuing and wide-reaching contacts” in Texas.  Id. at 15, 19 (citing Burger King v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462 (1985).  (A lengthy footnote analyzes Texas law about the role of choice-of-law clauses in a jurisdictional analysis.  Id.  at 14-15 n.4.)  The German company’s Internet sales into Texas — 15 programs, costing roughly $66 each, over four years — did not establish “purposeful availment” for specific jurisdiction, or “continuous and systematic contacts” for general jurisdiction.  Id. at 19-24, 28-29.    The alleged acts of conversion occurred in Germany and thus did not create specific jurisdiction either.  Id. at 25-26.

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