In a recent memorandum opinion, Judge Sue Robinson denied a patent infringement defendant’s motion to transfer venue to the Northern District of Texas. Plaintiff Cradle IP was incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in California, while Defendant Texas Instruments was incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in Texas. See Cradle IP, LLC v. Texas Instruments, Inc., C.A. No. 11-1254-SLR, Memo. Op. at 1-2 (D. Del. Feb. 13, 2013).
Referring to her opinion on a similar motion in Helicos Biosciences Corp. v. Illumina, Inc., 858 F. Supp. 2d 367 (D. Del. 2012) (discussed here), Judge Robinson began with “the premise that a defendant’s state of incorporation has always been ‘a predictable, legitimate venue for bringing suit’ and that ‘a plaintiff, as the injured party, generally ha[s] been ‘accorded [the] privilege of bringing an action where he chooses.’’” Cradle IP, LLC v. Texas Instruments, Inc., Memo. Op. at 2. At the same time, Judge Robinson recognized that “the Federal Circuit expects an analysis of all the Jumara factors in connections with any transfer decision,” and proceeded to address each factor in turn. Id. at 3.
Judge Robinson found that the only factor favoring transfer was the “practical considerations that could make the trial easy, expeditious, or inexpensive,” because “trial in the Northern District of Texas would be easier and less expensive for [Texas Instruments, but it] is not evident that trial in Delaware would be easier and less expensive for Cradle IP.” Id. at 8. Every other factor either weighed against transfer or was neutral (the remaining factors were: choice of forum, where the claims arise, the parties’ relative size, convenience of the witnesses, location of books and records, relative administrative difficulty, local interest in deciding local controversies, enforceability of a judgment, public policies of the fora, and the familiarity of the judge with state law). Ultimately, she found, Texas Instruments did not meet its burden of showing that Cradle IP’s choice of forum should be disturbed. Id. at 5-9.
Perhaps most significantly, Judge Robinson declined Texas Instruments’ invitation to “‘accord little weight [to the plaintiff’s choice of venue] because [Cradle IP’s] recent incorporation in Delaware is an article of litigation’ and . . . ‘simply a litigation vehicle for [Cradle IP’s parent corporation], designed to give it an anchor, however tenuous, to this District.’” Id. at 4. Judge Robinson explained: “many businesses and academic institutions enforce their patent rights through private companies (like Cradle IP); such a business strategy is not nefarious. The court declines to treat such non-practicing entities as anything less than holders of constitutionally protected property rights, those rights having been legitimized by the Patent & Trademark Office.” Id.