Cradle IP LLC v. Texas Instruments, Inc.
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Sue L. Robinson on 2/13/2013. (nmfn)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
CRADLE IP, LLC,
TEXAS INSTRUMENTS, INC.,
) Civ. No. 11-1254-SLR
Paul E. Crawford, Esquire and Chad S.C. Stover, Esquire of Novak Druce Connolly
Bove +Quigg LLP, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Plaintiff. Of Counsel: Charles
W. Saber, Esquire and Robert G. Gingher, Esquire of Dickstein Shapiro LLP.
Jeffrey L. Moyer, Esquire, Kelly E. Farnan, Esquire, and Jason J. Rawnsley, Esquire of
Richards, Layton & Finger, P.A., Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Defendant. Of
Counsel: Robert T. Haslam, Esquire, Anupam Sharma, Esquire, Christopher Longman,
Esquire, and Jilliam Willis, Esquire of Covington & Burling LLP.
Dated: February 13, 2013
On December 16, 2011, plaintiff Cradle IP, LLC ("Cradle IP") filed this patent
infringement action against defendant Texas Instruments, Inc. ("TI").
In its complaint,
Cradle IP alleges that certain Tl Multicore Digital Signal Processes, Microprocessors,
and OMAP devices ("the accused products") infringe three of Cradle IP's patents: U.S.
Patent No. 6,874,049; U.S. Patent No. 6,708,259; and U.S. Patent No. 6,647,450 ("the
patents-in-suit"). Pending before the court is Tl's motion to transfer venue to the
Northern District of Texas. (D.I. 18) The court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1338(a). For the reasons that follow, the motion to transfer is
Cradle IP was incorporated in Delaware on September 1, 2011 and is the
privately held, majority-owned subsidiary of Cradle Technologies, a California
corporation. The three patents-in-suit were assigned from Cradle Technologies to
Cradle IP on November 10, 2011. Both Cradle Technologies and Cradle IP have their
corporate headquarters and principal places of business at 82 Pioneer Way, Suite 103,
Mountain View, California.
Tl is incorporated in Delaware and has its headquarters and principal place of
business in Dallas, Texas. According to Tl, the accused products are largely designed
in Texas, as well as in Massachusetts, India, and France. Documents related to
technical support, marketing, sales, business management, and product line
management of the accused products are housed in Tl's Dallas headquarters, including
access to those documents located overseas. (D .I. 19 at 4)
Ill. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Section 1404(a) of Title 28 of the United States Code grants district courts the
authority to transfer venue "[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the
interests of justice ... to any other district or division where it might have been
brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Much has been written about the legal standard for
motions to transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). See, e.g., In re Link_A_Media Devices
Corp., 662 F.3d 1221 (Fed. Cir. 2011 ); Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873 (3d
Cir. 1995); Helicos Biosciences Corp. v. //lumina, Inc., 858 F. Supp. 2d 367 (D. Del.
Referring specifically to the analytical framework described in Helicos, the court
starts with the premise that a defendant's state of incorporation has always been "a
predictable, legitimate venue for bringing suit" and that "a plaintiff, as the injured party,
generally ha[s] been 'accorded [the] privilege of bringing an action where he chooses."'
858 F. Supp. 2d at 371 (quoting Norwood v. Kirkpatrick, 349 U.S. 29, 31 (1955)).
Indeed, the Third Circuit in Jumara reminds the reader that "[t]he burden of establishing
the need for transfer ... rests with the movant" and that, "in ruling on defendants'
motion, the plaintiff's choice of venue should not be lightly disturbed." 55 F.3d at 879
The Third Circuit goes on to recognize that,
[i]n ruling on§ 1404(a) motions, courts have not limited their
consideration to the three enumerated factors in§ 1404(a)
(convenience of parties, convenience of witnesses, or interests
of justice), and, indeed, commentators have called on the courts
to "consider all relevant factors to determine whether on
balance the litigation would more conveniently proceed and the
interests of justice be better served by transfer to a different
/d. (citation omitted). The Court then describes some of the "many variants of the
private and public interests protected by the language of§ 1404(a)." /d.
The private interests have included: plaintiff's forum of preference
as manifested in the original choice; the defendant's preference;
whether the claim arose elsewhere; the convenience of the parties
as indicated by their relative physical and financial condition; the
convenience of the witnesses - but only to the extent that the
witnesses may actually be unavailable for trial in one of the
fora; and the location of books and records (similarly limited to
the extent that the files could not be produced in the alternative
The public interests have included: the enforceability of the
judgment; practical considerations that could make the trial
easy, expeditious, or inexpensive; the relative administrative
difficulty in the two fora resulting from court congestion; the
local interest in deciding local controversies at home; the
public policies of the fora; and the familiarity of the trial judge
with the applicable state law in diversity cases.
/d. (citations omitted) (emphasis added).
With the above "jurisdictional guideposts" in mind, the court turns to the "difficult
issue of federal comity" that transfer motions present. E.E.O.C. v. Univ. of Pa., 850
F.2d 969, 976 (3d Cir. 1988 ). Although transfer is a discretionary decision on the part
of a district judge, clearly the Federal Circuit expects an analysis of all the Jumara
factors in connection with any transfer decision issued by the court. In this regard,
Cradle IP has not questioned Tl's assertion that the instant law suit could have been
brought in the Northern District of Texas and, therefore, that requirement shall not be
addressed further. See 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).
A. Choice of Forum
As noted above, a defendant's state of incorporation is a traditional and
legitimate venue. Moreover, plaintiffs (as the injured parties) have historically been
accorded the privilege of choosing the venue for pursuing their claims. Tl argues that
these customary principles "should be accorded little weight because [Cradle IP's]
recent incorporation in Delaware is an artifice of litigation" and, indeed, Cradle IP is
"simply a litigation vehicle for Cradle Technologies, designed to give it an anchor,
however tenuous, to this District." (D.I. 19 at 7)
With respect to the characterization of Cradle IP as "simply a litigation vehicle
for Cradle Technologies," many businesses and academic institutions enforce their
patent rights through private companies (like Cradle IP); such a business strategy is not
nefarious. The court declines to treat such non-practicing entities as anything less than
holders of constitutionally protected property rights, those rights having been legitimized
by the Patent & Trademark Office. Therefore, the fact that a plaintiff is characterized as
a "litigation vehicle" does not detract from the weight accorded a plaintiff's choice of
Tl also questions the timing of Cradle IP's incorporation vis a vis commencement
of the instant litigation, implying that incorporation is a "tenuous anchor" to Delaware if
done in connection with a business/litigation strategy. Of course, business entities
choose their situs of incorporation for varied reasons, including the ability to sue and be
sued in that venue. Again, the court declines to detract from the weight accorded a
plaintiff's choice of forum because of the timing of Cradle IP's formation and
Tl argues generally that Cradle IP's choice of forum should be accorded little
weight in this case because neither party has any "meaningful connection" to Delaware
(D.I. 19 at i) and that Tl's choice of forum that should instead be the preferred one
because of the convenience factors discussed below. (/d. at 5) The court declines to
elevate the convenience of Tl over the choice of a "neutral" forum selected by both
parties as the situs of their incorporation. Indeed, the concepts of "convenience" in an
electronic age, "home turf' in an age of global economies, and "forum shopping" during
the ten-year term of the patent cases pilot program are ill-fitting, if not anachronous.
For all of the above stated reasons, the parties' choice of forum is, at best, neutral.
B. Where the Claims Arise
A claim for patent infringement arises wherever someone has committed acts of
infringement, to wit, "makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention" without
authority. See generally 35 U.S.C. § 271 (a); Red Wing Shoe Co., Inc. v. HockersonHalberstadt, Inc., 148 F.3d 1355, 1360 (Fed. Cir. 1998) (an infringement claim "arises
out of instances of making, using, or selling the patented invention."). There is no
dispute that Tl has sold the accused products in Delaware. This factor weighs against
C. The Parties' Relative Size
The Third Circuit in Jumara indicated that, in evaluating the convenience of the
parties, a district court should focus on the parties' relative physical and financial
condition. In this case, Tl clearly is larger in terms of its operations. Once again, Tl
downplays this comparison because Cradle IP is not an operating company.
Nonetheless, so long as Cradle IP has a legitimate right to enforce its constitutionally
protected property rights, the court will make the comparison required under Jumara.
This factor weighs against transfer.
D. The Convenience of the Witnesses
As the Third Circuit in Jumara implicitly recognized, litigation is an inconvenient
exercise. Therefore, it is not whether witnesses are inconvenienced by litigation but,
rather, whether witnesses "actually may be unavailable for trial in one of the fora" that is
a determinative factor in the transfer analysis. Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879. Setting aside
the general argument that party witnesses may be inconvenienced by litigating in
Delaware, 1 Tl argues that virtually every potential non-party witness in this case may be
unavailable in Delaware because the court cannot compel them to appear at trial. (D.I.
19 at 13-14) Given that Tl relies on nothing more than speculation to suggest that any
non-party witness might be critical enough to be called upon to testify at trial (and be
unwilling to do so), 2 this factor weighs against transfer.
E. Location of Books and Records
The Third Circuit in Jumara again advised that, while the location of books and
records is a private interest that should be evaluated, it is not a determinative factor
Depositions in the cases over which this judicial officer presides are generally
taken where the deponents reside or work. There is no suggestion that this case has
been an exception.
With respect to trials, in the nine patent jury trials this judicial officer conducted
between March 2010 and October 2011, an average of three fact witnesses per party
appeared live for trial, with the average length of trial being 28 hours (with the parties
often using less time than allocated, on average, 25 hours).
unless "the files c[an] not be produced in the alternative forum." Jumara, 55 F.3d at
879. Tl has averred that the "Accused Products in this action are largely designed in
the State of Texas," as well as in Massachusetts, India and France, and that "[t]he
products are manufactured in Dallas and overseas." (D. I. 19 at 4) Therefore, the
"[d]ocuments related to technical support, marketing, sales, business management, and
product line management of the Accused Products and the departments in which they
are housed are located in Tl's headquarters in Dallas," with the "documents that are
located overseas" being accessible from Tl's Dallas-based engineering facilities. (/d.)
Tl argues that these facts militate in favor of transfer to the Northern District of Texas.
Consistent, however, with the realities of our electronic age, virtually all
businesses (especially those based on advances in technology) maintain their books
and records in electronic format readily available for review and use at any location. 3
There is no indication that the parties at bar conduct their businesses differently, or that
they have experienced any difficulty in conducting electronic discovery; to wit, that the
exchange of documents has occurred electronically, as it would whether the parties
were within blocks of each other or across the country from each other or across
continents. With respect to trial, in the nine patent jury trials over which this judicial
officer presided between March 2010 and October 2011, an average of 87 documents
were admitted per trial as exhibits by all parties, hardly a burden. This factor weighs
F. Practical Considerations
As confirmed by Tl, in describing its overseas records as being accessible in
This factor, that is, practical considerations that could make the trial easy,
expeditious or inexpensive, arguably is where the "difficult issues of federal comity"
most dramatically come into play, as it involves a comparison between courts of equal
rank to determine their efficiencies, 4 all in the context of the parties' various business
and litigation strategies. 5 Having thus set the stage, the court recognizes that trial in the
Northern District of Texas would be easier and less expensive for Tl. It is not evident
that trial in Delaware would be easier and less expensive for Cradle IP than trial in
either its or Tl's "home turf." This factor weighs in favor of transfer.
G. Relative Administrative Difficulty
Given that trial in this case has been scheduled consistent with the parties'
proposals, this factor is neutral.
H. Local Interest in Deciding Local Controversies
Tl reiterates its argument that Texas has the strongest local interest in this
controversy because the factual connection of this case to Texas is overwhelming. In
this regard, Tl maintains its principal places of business in Texas; consequently, the
Texas economy may be impacted by litigation, e.g., the local economy derives benefits
when trials attract visitors and/or are resolved in favor of local companies.
Arguably, this comparison has been punctuated by the fact that this court,
unlike those courts in the patent cases pilot program, manages its patent docket without
the aid of patent local rules, thus allowing the judges to vary their case management
procedures over time and/or from case to case.
In this regard, the court does expect the corporate citizens of Delaware to
make themselves available to litigate in Delaware and does not accord different
treatment to patent holders based on their business and/or litigation strategies.
Nevertheless, and despite any implications to the contrary, 6 patent litigation does
not constitute a local controversy in most cases. Patent cases implicate constitutionally
protected property rights. The resolution of patent cases is governed by federal law
reviewed by a court of appeals of national (as opposed to regional) stature. Moreover,
to characterize patent litigation as "local" undermines the appearance of neutrality that
federal courts were established to provide and flies in the face of the national (if not
global) markets that are affected by the outcome of these cases. Therefore, this factor
I. Remaining Jumara Public Interest Factors
The remaining Jumara public interest factors - the enforceability of a judgment,
the public policies of the fora, and the familiarity of the judge with state law - are neutral.
Tl has the burden of persuading the court, by a preponderance of the evidence,
that the Jumara factors warrant transfer. Tl has not tipped the scales of justice in favor
of transfer and, therefore, its motion is denied. An appropriate order shall issue.
See, e.g., In re Link_A_Media, 662 F.3d at 1224 (in discussing Jumara's public
interest factors, the Court emphasized that the forum should have "ties" to the dispute
or to the parties aside from being the state of incorporation).
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