United States District Court, D. New Jersey
October 14, 2005.
EON-NET, L.P., Plaintiff,
The opinion of the court was delivered by: DENNIS CAVANAUGH, District Judge
This matter comes before the Court upon motion by
Coolanimalstuff.com ("Defendant") to transfer venue to the United
States District Court for the Western District of Washington. No
oral argument was held pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 78. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion is
Eon-Net ("Plaintiff") is a Limited Partnership with its
principal place of business in the British Virgin Islands.
(Plaintiff's Brief in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to
Transfer ("Pl. Br.") at 1). Plaintiff owns United States Patent
Number 6,683,687 ("Patent") titled "Information Processing
Methodology." (Id.) Mitchell Medina invented the Patent and is
solely responsible for conducting Plaintiff's business affairs.
(Id.) Mr. Medina is a former New Jersey resident who now lives
in Nairobi, Kenya. (Id.) On February 2, 2005, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against
Defendant before this Court for patent infringement. (Defendants
Brief in Support of its Motion to Transfer ("Def. Br.") at 1).
Defendant is a corporation organized under the laws of Washington
with its principal and only place of business located in Seattle,
Washington. (Id.) Defendant filed its Answer with Counterclaims
on May 25, 2005. Defendant now requests this Court transfer the
case to the United States District Court for the Western District
of Washington for reasons discussed below.
The court has broad discretion in deciding whether a transfer
of venue is warranted, see Plum Tree v. Stockment,
488 F.2d 754, 756 (3d Cir. 1973), and must consider both the public
interest and the private interests of the parties. The factors to
be considered are: "1) plaintiff's choice of forum; 2) relative
ease of access to sources of proof; 3) availability of compulsory
process for attendance of unwilling witnesses; 4) cost of
obtaining attendance of willing witnesses; 5) possibility of
viewing premises, if applicable; 6) all other practical problems
that make trial of a case easy, expeditious, and inexpensive; and
7) `public interest' factors, including the relative congestion
of court dockets, choice of law considerations, and the
relationship of the community in which the courts and jurors are
required to serve to the occurrences that give rise to the
litigation." Gulf Oil v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508-09 (1947).
B. Patent Cases
28 U.S.C. § 1400(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
addresses the issue of proper venue in patent infringement cases
and states a cause of action may be brought in any district where
the "defendant resides or where the defendant has committed acts
of infringement and has a regular and established place of business." Although a
plaintiff may file a claim where the defendant resides, the
preferred forum is "the center of the accused activity."
Osteotech, Inc. v. Gensci Regeration Sciences, Inc.,
6 F.Supp.2d 349, 357 (D.N.J. 1993).
Here, Defendant's principal and only place of business has
always been located in Seattle, Washington. (Def. Br. at 1). The
Western District of Washington therefore had personal
jurisdiction over the Defendant when the alleged infringement
occurred and continues to have personal jurisdiction over
Defendant today. Seattle is also the "center of the accused
activity." Plaintiff claims Defendant violated its ownership
rights over patent 6,683,687 (Plaintiff's Complaint ("Pl.
Compl.") at 3). The patent violation does not occur when people
from New Jersey order products off of Defendant's website or when
Defendant ships products to New Jersey. The violation occurs
where Defendant maintains its website, which is in Seattle where
the software engineer initially developed and now operates and
manages the technical processes Plaintiff complains violates its
patent. (Def. Br. at 9). Therefore, the "center of accused
activity" is located in Seattle, Washington.
B. Private Interest Factors
1. Plaintiff's Choice of Forum
In addition to Seattle being the "center of accused activity,"
the factors this Court must consider when deciding motions to
transfer venue also indicate this case should be transferred. The
first factor to consider is the weight given to a plaintiff's
choice of forum. A plaintiff's choice of forum normally is
entitled to great weight. However, this choice deserves less
weight where none of the operative facts of the action occur in
the forum selected by plaintiff. Schmidt v. Leader Dogs for the
Blind, Inc., 545 F.Supp. 42, 47 (E.D.Pa. 1982). Here, Plaintiff is foreign corporation that holds and licenses
patents and the Plaintiff's principal partner in charge of all
business operations is domiciled in Kenya. (Pl. Br. at 1).
Plaintiff's only ties to New Jersey is that the partner once
lived in New Jersey and returns to visit family and friends every
year, during which he will sometimes conduct business. (Pl. Br.
at 4). The only place Defendant operates its business is Seattle,
Washington. (Def. Br. at 1). Washington is where the alleged
patent infringement would have occurred. The fact that New Jersey
residents order products off of Defendant's website and have
these products shipped to New Jersey is not enough. Plaintiff's
claim does not deal with the ordering and shipping of Defendant's
products in New Jersey, it addresses patent infringement.
Therefore, none of the operative facts of the action occured in
this forum and Plaintiff's choice of forum does not deserve much
2. Convenience of Witnesses and Parties
It will be much more convenient for witnesses if this case is
transferred to Washington. The primary focus of the case will be
Defendant's alleged illegal activities, which all occurred in
Seattle. Any witnesses associated with these activities will most
likely be one of Defendant's employees or an employee of the
company that hosts the server supporting the CoolAnimalStuff.com
website, who processes information by a method allegedly
infringing on Plaintiff's patent. (Def. Br. at 12). This company
is also located in Seattle. (Id.) The majority, if not all of
the witnesses, regarding this case are located in Washington so
it is more convenient for the witnesses for this case to be heard
It is also more convenient for the parties if this case is
transferred to Washington. Defendant is located in Washington and
Plaintiff is incorporated in the British Islands with the principal partner living in Kenya. Regardless of whether this
case goes forward in New Jersey or Washington, Plaintiff will
have to travel and transport evidence. If the case is in
Washington, Plaintiff is not inconvenienced any more than if the
case is in New Jersey. However, if the case remains in New
Jersey, Defendant and all of Defendant's witnesses will have the
expense and hassle of traveling to New Jersey. Furthermore,
Defendant will suffer economic hardship due to this expense.
Defendant is a small business that earns less than two million
dollars in retail sales. (Def. Br. at 13-14). If Defendant is
forced to go to New Jersey it will suffer unnecessary financial
hardship that could be avoided if the case is litigated in
Washington. Plaintiff's business appears to be holding patents
and will not suffer any additional hardship if the case is
transferred. It is therefore more convenient for the parties if
venue is transferred.
C. Public Interest Factors
The State of New Jersey does not have a strong interest in the
outcome of this litigation. While New Jersey residents purchase
products from Defendant, whether Defendant violates patent law
does not harm the products New Jersey residents order. There are
no New Jersey citizens involved in this law suit, nor are there
any New Jersey corporations involved in this lawsuit. Washington
does have an interest in this lawsuit because a Washington
corporation is a party in the case and all of the alleged
culpable conduct occurred in Washington. Furthermore, the burden
of jury duty "ought not to be imposed upon the people of a
community which has no relation to the litigation." Ferens v.
John Deere Co., 494 U.S. 516, 529-30 (1990). New Jersey jurors
have no interest in this litigation because the outcome will not
impact any New Jersey residents. Accordingly, the people of New
Jersey should not be burdened with having serving jury duty if
this case goes to trial. For this reason and all the reasons
stated, venue is transferred. III. Conclusion
For the reasons stated, it is the finding of this Court that
Defendant's request to transfer venue is granted. An
appropriate Order accompanies this Opinion.
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