Marvell International Ltd. v. Link A Media Devices Corp
MEMORANDUM ORDER denying 10 MOTION to Transfer Case to Northern District of California filed by Link A Media Devices Corp. Signed by Judge Sue L. Robinson on 6/8/2011. (nmf)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
MARVELL INTERNATIONAL LTD.,
) Civ. No.1 0-869-SLR
At Wilmington this 8th day of June, 2011, having reviewed defendant
Link A Media Devices Corp.'s ("LAMD's") motion to transfer, as well as the papers
submitted in connection therewith;
IT IS ORDERED that said motion (0.1. 10) is denied, as follows:
1. Background. On October 11, 2010, plaintiff Marvell International Ltd.
("Marvell") instituted the present patent infringement litigation, alleging that LAMD
infringes U.S. Patent Nos.: 7,328,395; 7,751,138; 7,099,411; and 7,228,485. (0.1. 1 at
1'[1'[ 11-32) LAMD moved to transfer the present action to the Northern District of
California. (0.1. 10)
2. The parties. LAMD, a Delaware corporation having its prinCipal place of
business in California, is a maker, seller, and/or distributor of micro chips for data
storage devices in the United States. (0.1. 1 at,-r,-r 8-10; 0.1. 11 at 1-2) LAMD has
offices in California, Minnesota, the United Kingdom, and Japan. (0.1. 11 at n.2)
Marvell, a Bermuda company having its principal place of business in Bermuda, is the
assignee and sole owner of the patents-in-suit. (D.I. 1 at.
1, 12, 18, 24, 29)
3. LAMD asserts that transfer is appropriate because: (1) LAMD has its
principal place of business in the Northern District of California; (2) the court should not
defer to Marvell's choice of forum as it did not sue on its home turf; (3) the events giving
rise to the litigation arose outside of Delaware; (4) LAMD is a regional enterprise; (5)
relevant records and important non-party witnesses reside in the Northern District of
California; and (6) court congestion in Delaware gives rise for transfer to California.
(D .1. 11) Notwithstanding LAMD's arguments in support of transfer, there is one pivotal
connection to Delaware: it is LAMD's state of incorporation. (D.1. 1 at ~ 2; D.I. 11 at 1)
4. Marvell opposes transfer, arguing that the court should defer to its choice of
forum because: (1) LAMD is incorporated in Delaware; (2) LAMD has not met its
burden to compel the court to transfer the case as LAMD is unable to point to any
witness or document that could not be produced in Delaware; and (3) Delaware is
known for its expertise in patent litigation. (D.I. 16)
5. Standard of review. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), a district court may transfer
any civil action to any other district where the action might have been broUght for the
convenience of parties and witnesses and in the interests of justice. Congress intended
through § 1404 to place discretion in the district court to adjudicate motions to transfer
according to an individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and the
interests of justice. Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988);
Affymetrix, Inc. v. Synteni, Inc., 28 F. Supp. 2d 192,208 (D. Del. 1998).
6. The burden of establishing the need to transfer rests with the movant "to
establish that the balance of convenience of the parties and witnesses strongly favor
the defendants." Bergman v. Brainin, 512 F. Supp. 972, 973 (D. Del. 1981) (citing
Shutte v. Armco Steel Corp., 431 F.2d 22, 25 (3d Cir. 1970»; Medicis Pharm. Corp. v.
Nycomed U.S. Inc., Civ. No. 10-419-SLR, 2011 WL 1230276, at *2 (D. Del. Mar. 31,
2011). "Unless the balance is strongly in favor of a transfer, the plaintiff's choice of
forum should prevaiL" ADE Corp. v. KLA- Tencor Corp., 138 F. Supp. 2d 565, 567-68
(D. Del. 2001); Shutte, 431 F.2d at 25. The deference afforded plaintiff's choice of
forum will apply as long as a plaintiff has selected the forum for some legitimate reason.
C.R. Bard, Inc. v. Guidant Corp., 997 F. Supp. 556, 562 (D. Del. 1998); Cypress
Semiconductor Corp. v./ntegratedCircuitSys., Inc., Civ. No. 01-199, 2001 WL
1617186, at *2 (D. Del. Nov. 28, 2001); Padcom, Inc. v. NetMotion Wireless, Inc., Civ.
No. 03-983-SLR, 2004 WL 1192641, at *7 (D. Del. May 24, 2004). Although transfer of
an action is usually considered as less inconvenient to a plaintiff if the plaintiff has not
chosen its '''home turf or a forum where the alleged wrongful activity occurred, the
plaintiff's choice of forum is still of paramount consideration, and the burden remains at
all times on the defendants to show that the balance of convenience and the interests
of justice weigh strongly in favor of transfer." In re M.L.-Lee Acquisition Fund II, L.P.,
816 F. Supp. 973, 976 (D. Del. 1993).
7. The Third Circuit has indicated that the analysis for transfer is very broad.
Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 879 (1995). Although emphasizing that
"there is no definitive formula or list of factors to consider," Id., the Third Circuit has
identified potential factors it characterized as either private or public interests. The
private interests include:
(1) plaintiff's forum preference as manifested in the original choice; (2)
defendant's preference; (3) whether the claim arose elsewhere; (4) the
convenience of the parties as indicated by their relative physical and financial
condition; (5) the convenience of the witnesses but only to the extent that the
witnesses may actually be unavailable for trail in one of the fora; and (6)
location of books and records (similarly limited to the extent that the files
could not be produced in the alternative forum).
Id. (citations omitted). The public interests include:
(1) the enforceability of the judgment; (2) practical considerations that could
make the trial easy, expeditious, or inexpensive; (3) the relative
administrative difficulty in the two fora resulting from court congestion; (4) the
local interest in deciding local controversies at home; (5) the public policies
of the fora; and (6) the familiarity of the trial judge with the applicable state
law in diversity cases.
Id. (citations omitted).
8. Analysis. The court reiterates that, because LAMD is a Delaware
corporation, it has no reason to complain about being sued in Delaware. Further, while
motions to transfer have been granted for regionally based defendants in the past,
LAMD is not a regional enterprise. See Synthes USA, LLC v. Spinal Kinetics, Inc., Civ.
No. 08-838-SLR, 2009 WL 463977, at *1 (D. Del. Feb. 24, 2009). Unlike the defendant
in Spinal Kinetics, whose offices were located solely in California, LAMD has offices not
only in California, but also in Minnesota, the United Kingdom, and Japan. See id.
Having offices situated around the globe makes LAMD not only a national player, but
more of an international one, displacing it from regional enterprise status. See id.
9. With respect to LAMD's argument regarding court congestion, it is true that
this court's docket reflects the fact that patent cases, perhaps more often than in other
districts, are given a trial date and tried to resolution. Nevertheless, it is the rare
request from counsel for earlier trial dates than those provided by the court and even
rarer when such requests are not accommodated by the court to some extent. The
court also notes the irony that many members of the bar argue both sides of this
argument from case to case, making it even more of a non-issue from the court's
10. Neither is the court persuaded by LAMD's arguments regarding
convenience. In this electronic age, there are no substantial burdens associated with
discovery or witness availability that support the need for transfer. With respect to
discovery, documents generally are stored, transferred and reviewed electronically. It
would be surprising to the court to find that sophisticated litigants, such as those at bar,
still maintain their business records in hard copy, thus requiring either travel to
California for review of the documents or the copying and transporting of documents.
With respect to witnesses, generally the parties agree to take depositions where the
witnesses are located (or the court can so order). Moreover, for those cases that get to
trial, only a handful of witnesses testify live, and only a very small proportion of those
documents produced during discovery are used as trial exhibits. Given these realities,
this factor is outdated, irrelevant, and should be given little weight, if any, except for
those rare exceptions where truly regional defendants are litigating.
11. Finally, the court weighs California and Delaware's respective public interest
in deciding this dispute as evenly balanced between the two states. Even if the parties
may be considered to be California residents, LAMD is a corporate citizens of
Delaware, and, accordingly, is subject to suit in Delaware. (D.I. 1 at 112; D.I. 11 at 1)
12. Conclusion. As LAMD is incorporated in Delaware and is not a regional
enterprise, and in view of the other considerations discussed above, LAMD's motion for
transfer is denied.