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Digitech Image Technologies, LLC v. Leica Camera Ag and Leica Camera Inc

December 5, 2012

DIGITECH IMAGE TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LEICA CAMERA AG AND LEICA CAMERA INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Otis D. Wright, II United States District Judge

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT LEICA CAMERA INC.'S MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE [14] AND EX PARTE APPLICATION TO EXTEND THE DATE OF ITS REPLY [29]

I.INTRODUCTION

This motion to transfer venue stems from a patent-infringement action involving United States Patent No. 6,128,415. (ECF No. 14.) On October 1, 2012, Plaintiff Digitech Image Technologies sued Defendants Leica Camera AG ("AG") and Leica Camera Inc. ("Leica") for alleged infringement of this patent.*fn1 (ECF No. 1.) Leica seeks to transfer the action to the District of New Jersey under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) for forum non conveniens.*fn2 For the reasons that follow, the Court DENIES Leica's motion.

II.FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Digitech is a California limited liability company and present assignee of the entire right, title, and interest in and to the '415 patent, titled "Device Profiles for Use in a Digital Image Processing System." (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 6.) Digitech's principal place of business is Newport Beach, California. (Id. ¶ 1.) AG is a foreign company whose principal place of business is in Solms, Germany. (Mot. 3.) Leica is a Delaware corporation whose principal place of business is in Allendale, New Jersey. (Id.; Compl. ¶ 2.)

In its Complaint, Digitech alleges that Leica and AG are directly and indirectly infringing the '415 patent. (Compl. ¶¶ 9--10.) Digitech posits that the parties are directly infringing the '415 patent by "making, using, selling, and/or offering to sell" cameras utilizing the device profile technology throughout the United States. (Id. ¶¶ 9--10.) It also argues that Leica and AG are indirectly infringing the patent by (1) aiding and abetting resellers to sell or offer for sale these cameras; and (2) aiding and abetting customers to use these cameras. (Id. ¶ 10.)

III.LEGAL STANDARD

Venue in federal-question cases is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), which provides that venue is proper in any judicial district where any defendant resides if all defendants reside in the same state, or in any judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1391(b)(1), (2). If there is no district in which the action may otherwise be brought, venue is proper in any judicial district in which any defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction at the time the action is commenced. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a)(3).

For venue purposes, a corporation resides in any judicial district where it would be subject to personal jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c). In states such as California, which has more than one judicial district, a corporation is deemed to reside in any district within the state with which its contacts would be sufficient to subject it to personal jurisdiction if the district were a separate state. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c). Once a defendant has raised a timely objection to venue, the plaintiff has the burden of showing that venue is proper. Piedmont Label Co. v. Sun Garden Packing Co., 598 F.2d 491, 496 (9th Cir. 1979).

When determining proper venue, a court can look beyond the pleadings of the claim, and does not have to take a plaintiff's factual allegations as true. Murphy v. Schneider Nat'l, Inc., 362 F.3d 1133, 1137 (9th Cir. 2003). But when the facts are disputed, the trial court must draw all reasonable inferences and resolve all factual conflicts in favor of the non-moving party. Id. at 1138.

And finally, for a motion to transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) for forum non conveniens, courts have broad discretion to adjudicate "according to an individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness" for the parties and the witnesses involved. Jones v. GNC Franchising, Inc.,211 F.3d 495, 498 (9th Cir. 2000). Specifically, a court can consider the following factors:

(1) the location where the relevant agreements were negotiated and executed, (2) the state that is most familiar with the governing law, (3) the plaintiff's choice of forum, (4) the respective parties' contacts with the forum, (5) the contacts relating to the plaintiff's cause of action in the chosen forum, (6) the differences in the costs of litigation in the two forums, (7) the availability of compulsory process to compel attendance of unwilling non-party witnesses, . . . (8) the ease of access to sources of proof, . . . [(9)] the presence of a forum selection clause[,] . . . [and (10)] the relevant public policy of the forum state. Id. at 498--99.

IV.DISCUSSION

Both Leica and Digitech provide the Court with many reasons for and against transfer, but the Court only focuses on the most relevant reasons here. Leica contends following factors weigh in favor of transfer of this action to the District of New Jersey: the convenience of the Defendants, who are headquartered in New Jersey and Germany; the convenience of the witnesses, including Leica's New Jersey employees and the Massachusetts-based inventors of the '415 patent; and the ease of access to evidence in the form of Leica's physical and electronic records. (Mot. 3--5.) Leica also argues that ...


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