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Netflix Says Panama Papers Firm’s Libel Case Is in Wrong Court

Oct. 16, 2019, 5:10 PM

Netflix Inc. asked a federal court in Connecticut to dismiss on jurisdictional grounds a libel and trademark infringement lawsuit by law firm Mossack Fonseca & Co. over the soon-to-be-released movie “The Laundromat.”

Mossack Fonseca—the Panamanian law firm implicated in the Panama Papers—said in an Oct. 15 complaint that “The Laundromat” falsely portrays the firm’s partners as “ruthless uncaring lawyers who are involved in money laundering, tax evasion, bribery and/or other criminal conduct,” and infringes their trademarks by using the firm’s logo without permission.

The firm requested a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction “preventing Netflix from defaming the Plaintiffs” and “disparaging and misusing their protected logo(s) for economic gain.” Netflix is releasing the movie widely on its streaming platform Oct. 18, and Mossack Fonseca says the release “may subject Plaintiffs to unnecessary and unwanted legal attention” in Panama and affect their right to a fair trial in the U.S.

Netflix said the plaintiffs can’t sue in Connecticut because none of them “reside in Connecticut, has an office in Connecticut, or conduct business from any specific place or location within Connecticut.”

Netflix also argued that hearing the case in Connecticut would violate its due process rights because it doesn’t have minimum contacts there. Netflix said it doesn’t have offices in the state, hasn’t screened the film in the state, and that Mossack Fonseca didn’t allege Netflix’s actions “were somehow purposefully directed” at Connecticut.

In the alternative, Netflix requested the case be moved to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Netflix is headquartered in California, and it said “the convenience of witnesses and the location of relevant documents and proof” favor moving the case there.

Netflix said it will address Mossack Fonseca’s injunction and restraining order requests in a separate filing.

Cowdery & Murphy LLC and Pryor Cashman LLP represent Netflix. The Law Offices of Stephen J. Carriero represent Mossack Fonseca.

The case is Mossack Fonseca & Co. v. Netflix Inc., D. Conn., No. 3:19-cv-01618, motion to dismiss filed 10/16/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Blake Brittain in Washington at bbrittain@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com

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