In a recent memorandum opinion, Judge Andrews granted a motion filed by defendant SAS Institute to sever based on improper joinder, but denied SAS’s motion to transfer the case to its home forum in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Investpic, LLC v. SAS Institute, Inc., C.A. No. 10-1028-RGA (D. Del. May 15, 2012). Investpic filed suit in November 2010 against 15 defendants, including SAS. Applying the Federal Circuit’s standard for improper joinder, the Court severed SAS’s case, finding that “[t]here is no allegation in the complaint that alleges any connection between SAS and any other defendant, or between SAS’s products and any other defendant’s products.” Id. at 3.
The bulk of the Court’s opinion was dedicated to SAS’s motion to transfer, analyzing each of the factors laid out by the Third Circuit in Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 879-80 (3d Cir. 1995). In the process, Judge Andrews distinguished the Federal Circuit’s decision in In re Link_A_Media Devices Corp., 662 F.3d 1221 (Fed. Cir. 2011) (discussed here previously), explaining, “I would characterize that case generally as standing for the proposition that when the parties, all the witnesses, and all the evidence are in one distant jurisdiction, and the only connection to Delaware is that it is the state of incorporation of the defendant, and there is no other reason for the suit to be in Delaware, the suit must be transferred, upon timely request, to the distant jurisdiction.” Id. at 11. Judge Andrews explained that the situation in the case at bar was markedly different than that in Link_A_Media, primarily because Investpic and its patent (through previous owners) had a long-standing connection to Delaware, were located closer to Delaware than North Carolina, and because sales of SAS’s accused products took place in Delaware. “[W]hen the plaintiff is a small corporation with Delaware as its long-standing corporate home (as I consider the plaintiff to be . . .), and the defendant is a national company of [SAS’s] size, see Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. Altera Corp., 2012 WL 297720, *3 (D. Del. Jan. 24, 2012) (multi-billion dollar companies doing business on an international scale have a greater burden to meet in seeking transfer), there ought to be a compelling reason to overcome plaintiff’s choice of forum.” Id. Although SAS provided a number of valid reasons supporting its motion, the Court found that the overall balance of the Jumara factors did not support a transfer.