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Judge Sleet denies defendant’s amended motion to transfer venue to Middle District of Florida

In a recent memorandum opinion, Chief Judge Gregory M. Sleet denied defendant’s amended motion to transfer venue of this patent infringement action to the Middle District of Florida. Devicor Medical Products, Inc. v. Biopsy Sciences, LLC, C.A. No. 10-1060-GMS (D. Del. Apr. 15, 2013). Plaintiff is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Ohio, and defendant is a Florida corporation with its principal place of business in Clearwater, Florida. Id. at 3.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), Judge Sleet first determined that the suit could have been properly brought in the Middle District of Florida, as defendant’s principal place of business is in Clearwater, Florida. Id. at 4. Next, Judge Sleet considered the private interest Jumara factors. Because plaintiff is a Delaware corporation but is not physically located in Delaware, its forum choice weighed against transfer and was given “heightened but not maximum weight.” Id. at 6. Defendant’s preference to litigate in Florida weighed in favor of transfer. Id. With respect to whether the infringement “claims arose elsewhere,” defendant argued that it did not commit any direct acts of infringement in the District of Delaware. Id. at 7. Judge Sleet found, however, that defendant acknowledged its “distributors had sold the accused products in Delaware,” which could establish the basis for “alleged acts of indirect infringement.” Id. Judge Sleet therefore determined that factor was neutral. Id. at 7-8. Because neither party had a physical presence in Florida and because transfer would at least save defendant “the inconvenience and expense of litigating in a distant forum,” Judge Sleet found the convenience of the parties weighed in favor of transfer. Id. at 9. With respect to the convenience of the witnesses, “neither party . . . pointed to a single witness who [would] be unavailable for trial in either Delaware or Florida,” and Judge Sleet accordingly considered that factor to be neutral. Id. Because all of defendant’s books and records were maintained in Florida, Judge Sleet found the location of the books and records to weigh “slightly in favor of transfer.” Id. at 9-10.

Judge Sleet noted that the “parties appear[ed] to agree that several of the public interest factors [were] inapplicable to or neutral in the transfer analysis.” Id. at 10. However, Judge Sleet did consider the “local interest in deciding local controversies at home.” Id. at 10-11. Defendant argued that the “Middle District of Florida has a greater interest in litigation involving claims of patent infringement against one of its residents than does [the District of Delaware].” Id. at 10. Judge Sleet rejected defendant’s position, noting that “patent infringement actions are more properly viewed as national rather than local controversies.” Id. at 10-11. Further, with respect to the “public policies of the fora,” defendant argued that public policies supported the Middle District of Florida overseeing the matter. Id. at 11. Judge Sleet found, however, that defendant failed to provide support for its conclusory allegation. Id.

Judge Sleet found that defendant failed to meet “its heavy burden of establishing that the balance of convenience tips strongly in favor of transfer,” and defendant’s motion was thus denied. Id. at 11-12.

Devicor Medical Products, Inc. v. Biopsy Sciences, LLC, C.A. No. 10-1060-GMS (D. Del. Apr. 15, 2013)

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