Defendants Proximity to Delaware Leads to Transfer Out of the Eastern District of Texas

October 31, 2011

Plaintiff filed a patent infringement lawsuit against a number of defendants in the Eastern District of Texas. Defendants moved to transfer the case to either the Central District of California or the District of Delaware.

Plaintiff maintains its principal place of business in Connecticut and is incorporated in Delaware. The defendants are incorporated in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Switzerland, Sweden, Ireland and Germany and maintain their principal place of businesses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Nevada, California, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland. None of the defendants have any facilities within Texas. Plaintiff identified a number of independent care facilities that operate the accused product within the Eastern District of Texas. Plaintiff also obtained declarations from five medical professionals within the Eastern District's subpoena power who specialize in the use of the accused products.

In analyzing the transfer motion, the district court went through the various public and private factors beginning with the relative ease of access to sources of proof. The district court concluded that this factor weighed slightly in favor of transfer because much of the evidence, including plaintiff's own documents, were located along the East Coast, closer to Delaware than Texas. With respect to the availability of compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses, the district court found that this factor was neutral even though the plaintiff had identified witnesses within the Eastern District. The district court instead gave "some weight to Defendants' assertion that there exists similarly situated witnesses in Delaware that could competently testify regarding the operation of the accused products."

Turning to the cost of attendance for willing witnesses, the district court found that this factor also weighed in favor of transfer "given that most of the inventors, the prosecuting attorneys, and the party witnesses--including [plaintiff] itself--are located closer to the District of Delaware." The district court also decided not to give an inordinate amount of weight to the five medical professionals located in the Eastern District because the defendants represented that there will be similarly situated witnesses in Delaware or close to Delaware.

The district court then found that "other practical problems" and the public interest factors were neutral because neither court was familiar with the patents-in-suit or the accused products nor was it significant that some defendants were incorporated in Delaware.

Based on the analysis of all the factors, the district court determined that Delaware was a more convenient forum. "All but one of the U.S.-based Defendants and [plaintiff] itself are located closer to the District of Delaware than to this District. On these facts, any connection to this District via third-party witnesses appears tenuous given that it is highly likely that similarly situated third-party witnesses will present in the District of Delaware."

Ventronics Systems, LLC v. Drager Medical GMBH, Case No. 6:10-CV-582 (E.D. Tex. Oct. 20, 2011)

The authors of www.PatentLawyerBlog.com are patent trial lawyers at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. We represent inventors, patent owners and technology companies in patent licensing and litigation. Whether pursuing patent violations or defending infringement claims, we are aggressive and effective advocates for our clients. For more information contact Stan Gibson at 310.201.3548 or SGibson@jmbm.com.