I'm referring to this article: Blizzard sues overwatch "cheat" maker for copyright infringement

Does the German company have to come to court in the US? What if the German company couldn't afford to come to the US and refused?

  • 2
    In general if a party fails to show in court, they lose the case. If the company has no US presence, though, it won't be possible to enforce any judgment against them. – phoog Jul 4 '16 at 21:44

In order to successfully sue someone, you need to get everything in the one jurisdiction. That 'everything' consists of: plaintiff, defendant and cause of action. Ideally the defendant also has assets in the jurisdiction so you can enforce payment of any damages you win.

Sometimes an unlawful act will occur in many places, e.g. distributing software on the Internet which may occur through servers in many jurisdictions, and so the plaintiff can choose one of those jurisdictions. To illustrate this, you might notice that sometimes American celebrities will sue American magazines for defamation in the UK; this is because defamation happens in many places and the plaintiff picks the UK because it is easier to get damages for defamation there than anywhere else. Other times, the unlawful act will occur in one specific jurisdiction, so you need to go to a court in that jurisdiction.

Both the USA and Germany have copyright anti-circumvention laws, which is what the article in question is about, so arguably Blizzard could pick which jurisdiction to sue in. If you look at the Apple-Samsung litigation of recent years, there were parallel lawsuits running in the US, Australia, South Korea and probably other jurisdictions, because the alleged unlawful acts occurred in all of those places. Returning to the question, in this case Blizzard appears to have selected their home turf, California. The defendant will have to either ignore the lawsuit or send someone to run their defence, e.g. hire a Californian lawyer.

You can't compel a party to come to your jurisdiction. However, if you sue them and they don't appear, the court might award you 'summary judgment' which means you don't need to run a trial, you just win because they didn't show up to oppose you. But then what do you do?

The next step is enforcement. If the defendant doesn't want to pay you, you will need to find some assets of theirs and get a court (in the jurisdiction where the assets are) to order the seizure and sale of those assets. There are treaties which allow you to enforce a judgment from one jurisdiction in another, e.g. if you get a judgment in the UK then you can enforce that in the US, and vice versa. Note that there are various restrictions on each treaty and some courts place additional restrictions on when they will enforce other jurisdictions' orders.

What can sometimes happen is that an order is sitting there for a long time waiting for the defendant to enter the jurisdiction. For example, Roman Polanski cannot go to the United States, because there is an order for his arrest waiting for him. He stays in jurisdictions which will not compel him to go to the US. The US keeps trying to get him extradited but the jurisdictions he lives in refuse.

So, in Blizzard's case, the defendant will probably need to hire a Californian lawyer to defend it. If it doesn't, then Blizzard will get summary judgment from the Californian court. Assuming the defendant doesn't have any assets outside of Germany, Blizzard would then need to find a treaty between the US and Germany which would authorise a German court to enforce the Californian court's order against the defendant in Germany.

However, in this case it does seem like the Germany defendant has some kind of American presence. See paragraph 7 of Blizzard's complaint: https://torrentfreak.com/images/blizzard-bossland.pdf. Blizzard seems to allege that at least some of the people producing the hacks are in the US (although American pleadings have to be taken with a grain of salt). A Californian court order could be used to disrupt servers, domain names and any employees in the US. A lot of Internet infrastructure is in the US (it's the cheapest place to host, close to a lot of customers, etc) so a US court order can be very effective against Internet-related businesses even if they are not headquartered in the US.


One can hire a lawyer to make a "special appearance" to dispute jurisdiction.


If the defendant is selling their "cheat" in the USA, the alleged copyright infringement is taken place in the USA and they can be sued in the USA. Furthermore, the judgement can be enforced against them since they are likely to have assets in the USA.

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