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Glaxo Group Limited v. Genentech

April 12, 2010

GLAXO GROUP LIMITED AND GLAXOSMITHKLINE LLC, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
GENENTECH, INC. AND CITY OF HOPE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jeffrey S. White United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO TRANSFER

Now before the Court is Defendants Genentech and City of Hope's motion to transfer the case to the United States District Court for the Central District of California pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The Court finds the matter suitable for disposition without oral argument. Accordingly, the hearing scheduled for April 16, 2010 is HEREBY VACATED. Having carefully reviewed the parties' papers and considered their arguments and the relevant legal authority, and good cause appearing, the Court hereby GRANTS Defendants' motion for transfer.

BACKGROUND

On October 8, 2009, Plaintiffs Glaxo Group Limited and GlaxoSmithKline LLC (collectively, "GSK") brought this action in the Southern District of Florida for declaratory relief. Defendants Genentech and City of Hope moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction or, in the alternative, to transfer the action to the Central District of California. After two extensions of time to respond, GSK dismissed the case on February 17, 2009 and filed this action on the same day. On March 10, 2010, Defendants Genentech and City of Hope moved to transfer the action to the Central District of California.

Plaintiff Glaxo Group Limited is an English corporation with a principle place of business in the United Kingdom. (Complaint at ¶ 4.) Plaintiff GlaxoSmithKline is a Delaware limited liability company with a principle place of business in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Id. at ¶ 5.) Plaintiffs GSK recently began marketing and selling ArzerraTM, a treatment for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, in the United States. (Id. at ¶ 2.) Plaintiffs seek declaratory relief that U.S. Patent No. 6,331,415 (the "Cabilly II Patent") is invalid, unenforceable, and not infringed by GSK's ArzerraTM. (Id. at ¶ 1.)

Defendants Genentech and City of Hope co-own the Cabilly II Patent. Genentech is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in South San Francisco. (Id. at ¶ 6.) City of Hope is a California not-for-profit organization with its principle place of business in Duarte, California. (Id. at ¶ 7.) The Cabilly II Patent named five inventors: three that were Genentech employees residing in the Northern District of California, and two that were City of Hope employees residing in the Central District of California. Of the five inventors of the Cabilly II Patent, one resides in the Central District of California, another resides in the Northern District of California, and the three others are located in Israel, Pennsylvania, and Oregon. (Declaration of Daralyn J. Durie in Support of Defendants' Motion to Transfer ("Durie Decl."), ¶ 6.) GSK also identifies several witnesses that are or were employees of Genentech. (See Opp. at 3-5.) The majority of these witnesses, including scientists and patent attorneys, no longer work for Genentech. (See id.)

Defendants move to transfer in the interest of judicial efficiency primarily because other related actions were litigated in the Central District of California before Judge Pfaelzer. The Cabilly II Patent has been litigated before Judge Pfaelzer on two separate occassions. MedImmune, Inc., a licensee under the Cabilly II Patent, brought a declaratory relief action against Genentech and City of Hope seeking to have the Cabilly II Patent declared infringed, invalid, and unenforceable. See MedImmune, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc., No. 2:03-cv-02567 (C.D. Cal. filed Apr. 11, 2003). After five years of litigation, including extensive discovery, claim construction, an appeal, and a decision by the United States Supreme Court, the case settled. In May 2008, Centocor, another licensee of the Cabilly II Patent, filed a second declaratory judgment action raising the same claim construction, validity and enforceability issues. See Centocor Inc. v. Genentech, Inc., No. 2:08-cv-03573 (C.D. Cal. filed May 30, 2008). That case is currently pending, but the court has already completed claim construction and the parties have engaged in document and deposition discovery. (Declaration of Victoria Q. Smith in Support of Plaintiffs Opposition ("Smith Decl."), Ex. 8.) GSK has never been a party to either of these cases, however, and alleges that the earlier cases before Judge Pfaelzer involved different issues regarding infringement, invalidity, unenforceability, and damages.

The Court will address additional facts as necessary in the remainder of this Order.

ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard

When reviewing motions to transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), a procedural matter not related to patent law, courts should apply "the law of the appropriate regional circuit." Storage Tech. Corp. v. Cisco Sys. Inc., 329 F.3d 823, 836 (Fed. Cir. 2003); Winner Intern. Royalty Corp. v. Wang, 202 F.3d 1340, 1352 (Fed. Cir. 2000). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), a district court may transfer a civil action to any district where the case could have been filed originally, for the convenience of the parties and witnesses, and in the interest of justice. The burden is on the moving party to demonstrate that the action should be transferred. Commodity Futures Trading Comm'n v. Savage, 611 F.2d 270, 279 (9th Cir. 1979).

A district court has discretion "to adjudicate motions for transfer according to an 'individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness.'" Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988) (quoting Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 622 (1964)). In order for a district court to transfer an action under section 1404, a court must make the following two findings: (1) that the transferee court is "one where the action might have been brought," and (2) "that the convenience of the parties and witnesses in the interest of justice favor transfer." Hatch v. Reliance Ins. Co., 758 F.2d 409, 414 (9th Cir. 1985) (internal quotations omitted).

B. Transfer of Venue is Appropriate.

1. Venue is Proper in the Central District ...


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