District Court in Delaware Denies Motions to Transfer Where Transfer Would Require Litigation in Multiple Districts

by Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP
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In these patent infringement actions, the defendants moved to transfer to three different district courts. As explained by the district court, "[t]here are currently six pending actions in the District of Delaware involving LifePort, LifeScreen, or both. All of the infringement cases involve technology pertaining to the field of minimally invasive vascular repair and many of the actions share overlapping patents-in-suit, which will require claim construction. LifePort has asserted the most patents against the defendant W.L Gore & Associates, Inc. ("Gore"), which must be litigated in this district because Gore is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Newark, Delaware. Five of the patents asserted against Gore overlap with the defendant Endologix, Inc. ("Endologix"). LifePort has also asserted another patent against Gore that overlaps with the defendants Medtronic, Inc. and Medtronic Vascular, Inc. (collectively, "Medtronic"). Similarly, LifeScreen has asserted a patent against C.R. Bard, Inc. and Bard Peripheral Vascular, Inc. (collectively, "Bard"), and Cook Incorporated and Cook Medical Incorporated (collectively, "Cook"), but Bard has not sought transfer."

The district court then went through the basic factors for determining whether to transfer a case. "For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought or to any district or division to which all parties have consented." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Under this provision, a district court may exercise "broad discretion to determine, on an individualized, case-by-case basis, whether convenience and fairness considerations weigh in favor of transfer." Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 883 (3d Cir. 1995). The defendant has the burden to demonstrate that a transfer is appropriate, id. at 879-80, and "unless the balance of convenience of the parties is strongly in favor of the defendant, the plaintiff's choice of forum should prevail." Shutte v. Armco Steel Corp., 431 F.2d 22, 25 (3d Cir. 1970).

Based on these standards, the district court concluded that transfer was inappropriate. "After considering the parties' positions as set forth in their papers, as well as the applicable law, the court finds that transfer is not warranted. The interests of justice weigh heavily against transfer, because the District of Delaware is uniquely positioned to resolve the related patent infringement actions. Keeping the related cases in the same court will ease the burden on the judiciary as a whole by allowing a single "court to develop some familiarity with the patents and technology involved, thereby conserving judicial time and resources." Smart Audio Techs., L.L.C. v. Apple, Inc., 910 F. Supp. 2d 718, 733 (D. Del. 2012).

Further, "[t]o permit a situation in which two cases involving precisely the same issues are simultaneously pending in different [d]istrict [c]ourts leads to the wastefulness of time, energy and money that [section] 1404(a) was designed to prevent." Id. at 732-33 (quoting Cont'l Grain Co. v. The Barge FBL-585, 364 U.S. 19, 26 (1960)).

As a result, the district court denied the motions to transfer.

Lifeport Sciences LLC v. Endologix, Inc., Case No. 12-1791-GMS (D. Del. May 2014)

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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