In a recent memorandum opinion, Judge Leonard P. Stark denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s complaint for lack of personal jurisdictional and improper venue, and denied defendant’s alternative motion to transfer venue to the Northern District of California. Graphic Properties Holdings Inc. v. Asus Computer International, Inc., C.A. No. 12-210-LPS (D. Del. Jun. 28, 2013). Plaintiff, a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in New York, is asserting three patents, U.S. Patent Nos. 5,896,119 (“the ‘119 patent”), 6,816,145 (“the ‘145 patent”), and 8,144,158 (“the ‘158 patent”). Id. at 1-2. Moreover, plaintiff is asserting one or more of those three patents in at least eleven other ongoing actions in the District of Delaware. Id. at 1. Defendant is a California corporation with its headquarters in the Northern District of California. Id. at 2. Defendant “does not have employees, documents or places of business in Delaware,” and “none of [its] accused products were designed or manufactured in Delaware.” Id.
Defendant contested personal jurisdiction and venue only with respect to plaintiff’s asserted claims related to the ’119 patent; with respect to claims under the ’145 and ’158 patents, defendant had submitted to the Court’s jurisdiction. Id. at 5. Denying defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, Judge Stark explained why “jurisdiction is proper at least” under 10 Del C. § 3104(c)(3) based on “use” of the accused product in Delaware. Id. at 6. Specifically, § 3104(c)(3) permits the exercise of personal jurisdiction when a defendant “causes tortious injury in [Delaware] by an act or omission in [Delaware].” Id. As Judge Stark noted, defendant admitted that “in two instances an individual in Delaware returned a broken VH-242 monitor to [defendant], and [defendant] provided that individual with a replacement monitor in satisfaction of a warranty agreement.” Id. Judge Stark thus found that “[a]t a minimum,” plaintiff’s “indirect infringement claim . . . ‘arises from’ use of the accused products in Delaware by individuals who received the product from [defendant].” Id. at 7. Moreover, as Judge Stark explained, “[t]he direct infringement claim is likewise directly related to the delivery of the accused products to Delaware.” Id. Finally, Judge Stark found that the assertion of personal jurisdiction would comport with Due Process. In support of that finding, he noted that defendant “knowingly and intentionally shipped the accused products to two separate customers in Delaware” to satisfy its warranty. Id. Judge Stark also found the exercise of personal jurisdiction “fair and reasonable” based predominantly on defendant’s litigation with respect to the ’145 and ’158 patents that is moving forward in Delaware and the fact that the ’119 patent is being asserted in several other concurrent Delaware lawsuits. Id. at 8. Moreover, because the parties agreed that the “outcome of the venue issue should be the same as the outcome of the personal jurisdiction question,” Judge Stark denied defendant’s motion to dismiss for improper venue. Id. at 9.
Denying defendant’s alternative motion to transfer venue to the Northern District of California, Judge Stark found that “plaintiff’s choice of forum, practical considerations, administrative difficulty, and public policy” weighed against transfer. Id. at 16. Regarding plaintiff’s choice of forum, Judge Stark noted that “[t]he Court agrees with those cases that include a corporate entity’s state of incorporation as part of its home turf.” Id. at 10. Judge Stark thus found that plaintiff’s choice of forum was “entitled to ‘paramount consideration,’ or, at a minimum, ‘significant deference.’” Id. With respect to practical considerations, Judge Stark explained that plaintiff has “at least 11 other cases pending in Delaware, each of which involves one or more of the asserted patents,” and this factor therefore weighed “heavily” against transfer. Id. at 14. Relatedly, addressing administrative difficulties, Judge Stark noted that “[t]ransferring this case to California would only add to the workload of that Court without meaningfully reducing the workload of this one.” Id. at 15.
On the other hand, Judge Stark found that “defendant’s preferred forum, location of operative events, convenience to witnesses, and location of relevant evidence” weighed in favor of transfer, and that the remainder of the factors were neutral. Id. at 16. “Evaluating the factors as a whole, and according each factor its appropriate weight under the circumstances presented,” Judge Stark determined that defendant failed to demonstrate that “the balance of the convenience factors and interests of justice weigh strongly in favor of transfer.” Id.