United States District Court, D. New Jersey
OPINION AND ORDER
Leda Dunn Wettre United States Magistrate Judge.
the Court is the motion of Defendants, Fan Fi International,
Inc. ("Fan Fi") and ETL, LLC ("ETL"), to
transfer this consolidated action to the United States
District Court for the District of Nevada, pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1404(a). (ECF No. 45). Plaintiff, Interlink
Products International, Inc., filed an opposition to this
motion (ECF No. 50), and Defendants filed reply papers (ECF
No. 54). The Court having considered these filings, and for
the reasons set forth below, Defendants' transfer motion
UNDERLYING FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
manufactures and sells shower and bath parts, among other
things. (Am. Compl., ECF No. 14, ¶¶ 7-8). It holds
United States Letters Patent No. 7, 299, 510 ("the
'510 Patent"), a patent for a dual showerhead
diverter system. (Id. ¶¶ 15-16 & Ex.
B). Plaintiff claims that Defendants sell within the United
States dual showerheads with diverter devices that infringe
the '510 Patent. (Id. ¶¶ 14, 17-26).
commenced this action on February 29, 2016, alleging
infringement of the '501 Patent by Fan Fi. (Compl., ECF
No. 1). Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint on June 23,
2016, which added ETL as a defendant. (ECF No. 14).
Defendants asserted counterclaims for declarations of patent
invalidity and non-infringement in their Answer. (Answer, ECF
long after filing this action, Plaintiff filed another action
in this Court against the same Defendants, alleging trademark
infringement and unfair competition. Interlink Prods.
Int'l, Inc. v. Fan Fi Int'l, Inc., Civ. A. No.
16-1244 (WHW) (CLW) (D.NJ.). The Complaint in that action
alleges that Fan Fi sells showerheads in the United States
under the trademark "POWERSPA" and that this mark
infringes Plaintiffs usage of the mark "POWER SPA,
" registered as Trademark No. 4137909. Interlink
Prods. Int'l, Civ. A. No. 16-1244, Compl., ECF No.
l, ¶¶7-23. Plaintiff added ETL as a defendant to
that action on June 23, 2016. Interlink Prods.
Int'l, Civ. A. No. 16-1244, Am. Compl., ECF No. 13.
Defendants' Answer in that action asserts counterclaims
for a declaration of non-infringement and for cancelation of
Plaintiff s trademark. Interlink Prods. Int 7, Civ.
A. No. 16-1244, Answer, ECF No. 23.
August 2016, Plaintiff filed a third action in this Court
against Defendants, alleging claims for false advertising in
violation of the Lanham Act, as well as for violations of
state unfair competition law, deceptive trade practices laws,
and false advertising laws. Interlink Prods. Int'l,
Inc. v. Fan Fi Int'l, Inc., Civ. A. No. 16-4663
(WHW) (CLW) (D.N.J.), Compl., ECF No. 1. The Complaint in
that action contends that Defendants falsely claim that their
showerheads use patented technology to create a uniquely
strong spray. Interlink Prods. Int'l, Civ. A.
No. 16-4663, Compl., ECF No. 1.
September 28, 2016, U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo
issued an order consolidating the three actions under this
docket number, without prejudice to the parties' rights
to seek deconsolidation following the completion of
discovery. (ECF No. 40).
MOTION AND ANALYSIS
The Parties' Arguments
now move to transfer this consolidated action to the United
States District Court for the District of Nevada pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). (ECF No. 45). Defendants allege
that they have no formal operations or business relationships
in New Jersey and that they ship only 1% of their showerheads
to New Jersey. (Mem. of Law, ECF No. 46, ¶¶ 8-10).
They stress that their headquarters is located in Reno,
Nevada, and that all research, design, development, and
marketing decisions, as well as the bulk of distribution,
take place in their Nevada facilities. (Id.
¶¶ 6, 11-19). Defendants urge that keeping this
litigation in the District of New Jersey would unduly burden
them, and they note that they filed an action for false
advertising against Plaintiff in the District of Nevada in
November 2016. (Id. ¶¶ 31-32).
contend that the action's "center of gravity"
lies in Nevada, given that the bulk of Defendants' acts
underlying Plaintiffs claims occurred in Nevada and that most
witnesses and documents pertinent to the case are located
there. (Id. ¶¶ 20-30 & pp. 7-9,
10-11). Defendants posit that courts frequently transfer
intellectual property actions to the home district of the
defendant for these reasons. (Id. at 9).
Acknowledging the deference typically owed to a plaintiffs
choice of forum, Defendants assert that a plaintiffs filing
of an action in a foreign district or in a district not
central to the facts is "disqualifying" of such
deference. (Reply Br., ECF No. 54, at 3 n.1). Defendants
argue that permitting the case to remain in this district
based on a small number of sales here would effectively
nullify 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). (Id. at 7). They
dispute Plaintiffs position that a transfer would simply
shift the burden of litigation from Defendants to Plaintiff,
contending that most discovery will occur in Nevada and
little unique discovery related to Plaintiffs claim would be
found within New Jersey. (Id. at 10).
further argue that a judgment would be more easily enforced
in Nevada and that the convenience of resolving all of the
claims between Plaintiff and Defendants should outweigh any
convenience gained by leaving the matter before this Court,
where Plaintiff has other similar actions pending against
other defendants. (Id. at 12-13). Defendants contend
that courts typically have no public interest in retaining
patent cases, given the national scope of such actions.
(Id. at 12).
opposition, Plaintiff argues that a plaintiffs choice of
forum generally should receive deference, particularly when
it is the plaintiffs home district, and it contends that
transfer should not be granted where it would simply shift
the burden of litigation from the defendant to the plaintiff.
(Br. in Opp'n, ECF No. 50, at 7-8). Plaintiff asserts
that design, development, and testing of Defendants'
products could relate only to the patent claim, and not to
the trademark or false advertising claims. (Id. at
11). In any event, Plaintiff argues that Defendants'
product design and development do not in fact relate to the
patent claim, as they assert that Defendants simply purchased
the allegedly infringing diverter device from a supplier, and
thus infringement occurred primarily through the product
distribution and sales. (Id. at ...