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Judge Burke Denies Motion to Transfer to Northern District of California

Magistrate Judge Burke recently denied a motion to transfer to the Northern District of California after a full analysis of the Third Circuit’s Jumara factors.

Regarding the plaintiff’s choice of forum, the defendant argued that although the plaintiff is a Delaware LLC, the plaintiff had “misrepresented the location of its principal place of business” by listing a vacant building in Wilmington, Delaware in an “attempt[] to manipulate venue.” Judge Burke, however, found that the plaintiff had offered contradictory evidence and that “Defendant has not made a clear record indicating that this assertion was misleading or false. Nor has Defendant demonstrated that Plaintiff actually maintains its place of business in some other federal district.” Micro Design LLC v. Asus Computer Int’l, C.A. No. 14-837-LPS-CJB, Memo. Or. at 5-8 (D. Del. May 1, 2015). Further, Judge Burke explained that he was “not prepared to conclude that Plaintiff’s formation as a Delaware entity just over one month before filing suit, without more, constitutes the kind of manipulation of venue or inappropriate act that could cause this Jumara factor to weigh in favor of transfer. After all, and particularly as to Delaware, business entities choose their situs of incorporation for varied reasons, including the ability to sue and be sued in that venue. . . . Defendant has not demonstrated that Plaintiffs status as a Delaware LLC, even one of recent vintage, is anything other than the product of a legitimate, business-related choice.” Id. at 8-11 (internal quotations omitted).

Regarding other factors in the transfer analysis, the location of records, where the claims arose, the defendant’s forum preference, and the fact that the Northern District of California was the defendant’s site of incorporation and principal place of business all weighed in favor of transfer. Id. at 11-14, 19-20. Convenience of the parties, convenience of the witnesses, potential local interests, and public policy of the fora were neutral factors. Id. at 14-19, 24-26. Practical considerations that could make trial easy, expeditious, or inexpensive weighed against transfer due to related cases filed in the District of Delaware by the same plaintiff involving the same patents and technology. Id. at 21-24. Accordingly, Judge Burke found that the balance of these factors did not result “strongly in favor” of transfer and denied the motion.

Like the plaintiffs’ choice of forum, Judge Burke found that several other factors were not supported one way or the other by record evidence, and his view on such factors was accordingly limited to what could be inferred from the record before him. E.g. id. at 16-17.

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