Friday, December 02, 2011

CAFC grants mandamus action against D. Delaware

The bottom line in the Link A Media case: The United States District Court for the District of Delaware is directed to vacate its order denying petitioner’s motion to transfer venue, and to direct transfer to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

The CAFC applied the law of the Third Circuit (CA3):

The Third Circuit has identified various private and public interest factors to be considered in a § 1404 transfer analysis. Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 879 (3d Cir. 1995). In this case, the district court failed to balance those factors fairly and instead elevated two considerations to overriding importance. With respect to private interests, the district court’s fundamental error was making Marvell’s choice of forum and the fact of LAMD’s incorporation in Delaware effectively dispositive of the transfer inquiry. See Minstar, Inc. v. Laborde, 626 F. Supp. 142, 146 (D. Del. 1985) (“[T]he mere fact that Delaware is the plaintiffs’ choice of forum and . . . the defendants’ state of incorporation will not, standing alone, prevent this Court from transferring this suit to another forum.” (quoting Kaiser Indus. Corp. v. Wheeling- Pittsburgh Steel Corp., 328 F. Supp. 365, 369 (D. Del. 1971)). (...)

The court’s heavy reliance on the fact that LAMD was incorporated in Delaware was similarly inappropriate. See Koster v. Lumbermens Mut. Cas. Co., 330 U.S. 518, 527-28 (1947) (explaining that the “[p]lace of corporate domicile in such circumstances might be entitled to little consideration under the doctrine of forum non conveniens, which resists formalization and looks to the realities that make for doing justice.”). Neither § 1404 nor Jumara list a party’s state of incorporation as a factor for a venue inquiry. It is certainly not a dispositive fact in the venue transfer analysis, as the district court in this case seemed to believe.


Finally, Marvell argues to this court that the case should remain in Delaware because “the District of Delaware’s judges are highly experienced in patent infringement litigation.” Answer to Petition for Writ of Mandamus 19. It appears that Marvell is confusing the public interest factor relating to a trial court’s familiarity with “applicable state law,” Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879-80, which is not relevant here. Marvell’s claims arise under the federal patent laws, for which there is uniformity nationwide, and which the Northern District of California is equally equipped to address.


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