In Moneycat Ltd. v. PayPayl Inc., C.A. No. 13-1358-MSG (D. Del. May 15, 2014), Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg, sitting by designation, granted defendant’s motion to transfer to the Northern District of California.
As a threshold matter, Judge Goldberg addressed whether the motion was timely. Plaintiff argued it was not because Judge Goldberg’s “Policies and Procedures encourage the parties to make motions for a transfer prior to the Rule 16 scheduling conference, which occurred in this case over two months prior to [defendant] filing its motion to transfer. Second, [plaintiff] contends that transfer at this point—with the case having proceeded through substantial portions of discovery—would delay resolution of its infringement claims, particularly where [defendant] has refused to agree to continue on the same discovery schedule should the case be transferred.” Id. at 4. Even though “motions to transfer ought to be made as early in the proceedings as practicable” and the Court observed that, in light of the parties’ past litigation history, defendants should have been aware of what products would be accused and thus could have brought the transfer motion earlier, see id. at 5-6, the Court allowed the motion, noting that filing early transfer motions was not a hard and fast rule and that the case was still in its early stages. Id. at 6.
The Court then turned to the Jumara factors. Plaintiff is based in Israel, does not have a U.S. business presence, and has no apparent ties to Delaware. Under these facts, plaintiff’s forum choice was “not entitled to significant deference.” Id. at 7. The Court also observed that “there is reason to believe that [plaintiff] will have to send resources to the West Coast on occasion no matter where this case is tried, because much of the evidence and many of the witnesses in this case are in California,” the principal place of business of defendant. Id. Therefore, the Court “accord[ed] [plaintiff’s] choice of forum less deference than would otherwise be appropriate.” Id. at 8.
Defendant’s forum choice, where the claim arose, the convenience of the parties, the convenience of witnesses, and the location of books and records all weighed in favor of transfer, a key fact being that defendant’s activities regarding the accused services, records, and witnesses were largely in California or likely to be. See id. at 9, 10, 12. However, these factors only slightly favored transfer except for the convenience of the parties and the location of books and records. Id. at 15. As to the convenience of the parties, the Court noted differences in case law regarding the weight to afford the fact that a defendant is a Delaware corporation, which was the case here. Id. at 10-11. The Court followed the “decisions by considering [defendant’s] incorporation as weighing slightly in favor of denying transfer, but . . . decline[d] to give it significant weight. Overall, because neither party has a significant physical connection to Delaware, [the Court found] the convenience of the parties factor to weigh in favor of transfer” Id. at 11.
As to the public interest Jumara factors, all were neutral save practical considerations, which weighed in favor of transfer, the Court again citing the fact that the bulk of witnesses and evidence were in California. Id. at 13.
“Balancing these factors,” the Court concluded that defendant had “met its burden to justify transferring this action to the Northern District of California.” Id. at 15.