The Eastern District of Texas got Volkwagen II and then TS Tech — a one-two punch that knocked some wind out of the venue's rep as a patent solar plexus (or should Blawgletter say omphalos?).
Today, the Federal Circuit rounded on another IP hot spot — the District of Delaware.
As it did in In re TS Tech USA Corp., 551 F.3d 1315 (Fed. Cir. 2008), the court ordered a district court to transfer a patent infringement case to another district under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). In re Link_A_Media Devices Corp., Misc. No. 990 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 2, 2011) (per curiam).
Link_A_Media seems to portend an end to the practice of basing venue for patent lawsuits in Delaware solely on the ground that one or more of the parties incorporated in the First State.
The plaintiff in the case, Marvell International, had sued Link_A_Media Devices for infringing Marvell patents relating to "read channel devices", which have something to do with electronic data storage and transfer. But Marvell, a holding company from Bermuda, didn't employ the inventors; a Marvell sub in Silicon Valley did. And Link_A_Media, a start up, likewise did most of its work in the Northern District of California and none in Delaware.
The only link to the colony that voted first in favor of forming the Union? Link_A_Media got its corporate charter in Wilmington.
The Federal Circuit held that the birth of an entity in a forum state by itself couldn't beat a transfer motion under section 1404(a). Nor did the panel buy the "everybody's doing it" argument:
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. . . . It appears that Marvell is confusing the public interest factor relating to a trial court's familiarity with "applicable state law," . . . 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.
We have, by comparison, considered a district court's concurrent litigation involving the same patent to be a relvant consideration, if the court's experience was not tenuous and the cases were co-pending. . . . Here, the asserted experience is with patent cases generally and not with the patents at issue. There is no evidence, moreover, that the District of Delaware's acknowledged experience in this area translates to speedier resolution of patent cases than occurs in the Northern District of California.
Link_A_Media, slip op. at 7 (citations omitted).
The "uniformity nationwide" and "equally equipped" likely will sting the most.