Establishing personal jurisdiction is a fundamental step of
litigation in the adversarial system of the United States. The
rules outlining personal jurisdiction are changing as technology
and the requirements of the notice system evolve. The first real shift in personal jurisdiction analysis began mid-twentieth
century as corporations started physically invading foreign
territories through agents. The courts adjusted to this change by creating the minimum contacts test. A minimum contacts
analysis hinges on whether the defendant’s entry into the court’s jurisdiction was purposeful. Due process prevents courts from pulling a foreign defendant into court for a mere fortuitous entry into the forum.
The next shift is upon us with the development of the internet,
which presents a special problem because there are no state
boundaries in cyberspace. If there are no boundaries, how can
someone using the internet know when they have “entered” a new forum? Even with this new issue, due process principles must remain paramount in establishing personal jurisdiction. In response to technological advances, the federal judiciary began comparing new internet contacts to previously settled physical contacts, such as sending an agent into a state, to determine if it would be fair to obligate a foreign defendant to the forum. Later, in an attempt to simplify the process, judges created a new test to articulate repetitive principles consistently used in internet jurisdiction fact patterns: the Zippo sliding scale.