Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Where Do TXED Cases Go?

Anyone with a knowledge of the current patent infringement lawsuit landscape in the United States has more than likely noticed one court venue which has seen a huge influx of patent cases. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (E.D. Tex.) has seen an extremely large number of patent infringement cases on its docket, prompting some to go so far as to suggest that legislation limiting venue options should be pursued by Congress.

A plaintiff’s choice of venue in patent infringement cases is defined by Section 1400(b) of U.S. Code Title 28, which states that civil actions for patent infringement may be brought in the judicial district where the defendant resides or where the defendant has committed infringement and has a regular and established place of business. Because patent infringement plaintiffs can bring action in a venue where the defendant is doing business and not where it is headquartered, both the cost and inconvenience of defending a case in a distant venue may be reason enough for file a motion for a transfer of venue.

Legal teams preparing a defense for a party in a patent infringement suit filed in E.D. Tex. might find effective strategies for arguing a transfer of venue by investigating what has worked for others in the past. It’s not that rare to find cases in E.D. Tex. which have seen a motion to transfer venue granted.

As of this writing, in 2016 alone, there have been nearly 50 patent infringement cases which have been transferred out of E.D. Tex., with 19 of those cases ending up in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (N.D. Cal.).

One such case which was successfully transferred is Game and Technology Co. Ltd. vs. Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. et al. Game and Technology Co. brought suit against Blizzard and others, including Valve Corporation and RIOT Games, in E.D. Tex. over a trio of patents related to video gaming and online gameplay. The court granted the motion to transfer venue based on the fact that the relevant evidence and witnesses were more easily found in the districts identified by the defendants. Blizzard does business in the area covered by E.D. Tex. but the primary function of that office was customer support. The cases involving Blizzard and RIOT were directed to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (C.D. Cal.), while Valve’s case was transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (W.D. Wash.).

Another E.D. Tex. case in which the defense’s motion to transfer venue was successful is Intelligent Automation Design, LLC vs. Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc. et al. The patent-in-suit protects a method of controlling how screws are seated to prevent them from becoming stripped. Biomet Microfixation, one of the case’s defendants, petitioned for a transfer of venue based upon the fact that a previous case involving a Zimmer company was transferred out of E.D. Tex. for convenience. Biomet Microfixation also noted that it has no offices or facilities in Texas as well as the fact that the accused system was developed in the Kansas City region. The case was transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida (M.D. Fla.), which is where Biomet Microfixation’s headquarters are located.

There are dozens of recent patent infringement cases which legal teams can analyze to determine successful strategies for motions to transfer venue. Docket Navigator gives attorneys the analytical tools they need to quickly find granted motions regardless of the district court within which the case was originally filed.

Charts made using Docket Navigator's data.
This guest post was written by Steve Brachmann.

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