United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO TRANSFER AND VACATING HEARING
WILLIAM ALSUP, District Judge.
In this patent-infringement action, defendant moves to transfer this case to the Western District of Texas. For the following reasons, the motion is DENIED.
Plaintiff Quantum Corporation and defendant Crossroads Systems, Inc., sell data-storage devices for large-scale data back-up and archiving. Quantum filed this complaint against Crossroads alleging direct and indirect infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6, 776, 412, entitled "Data Storage Media Library with Scalable Throughput Rate for Data Routing and Protocol Conversion." Crossroads counterclaimed for a declaration of invalidity and noninfringement. The accused products include Crossroads' StrongBox and StrongBox VSeries Library Solution (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 10, 13-17; Answer ¶¶ 36-41; Quantum Exh. B).
Quantum and Crossroads are not strangers. In February 2014, Crossroads filed a complaint against Quantum in the Western District of Texas alleging infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 6, 425, 035 and 7, 934, 041, patents in the "'972 patent family." In July, Crossroads amended its complaint alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7, 051, 147, another patent in Crossroads' '972 patent family. Judge Sam Sparks, the presiding judge, consolidated Crossroads' claims against Quantum with seven of Crossroads' other Western District of Texas patent prosecutions for purposes of discovery (collectively, "the Texas action"). The Texas action involves claims against nine different defendants for infringement of patents in the '972 family. None of these patents is in suit in our case. Quantum requested inter partes review of three of the Crossroads patents. The United States Patent and Trademark Office instituted inter partes review on all petitioned claims of the 035 patent last February (Crossroads Exhs. D-H; Klein Decl. ¶¶ 3-5; Quantum Exhs. D-G).
Crossroads now moves to transfer this case, involving a Quantum patent, to the Western District of Texas, specifically angling to get Judge Sparks. For what it's worth, Crossroads has also filed a document entitled "Notice of Pendency of Other Action or Proceeding Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 3-13" to which Quantum objected (Dkt. Nos. 33, 48). This is a side show with no bearing on the outcome of the transfer issue. This order follows full briefing.[*]
"For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought." 28 U.S.C. 1404(a).
"The defendant must make a strong showing of inconvenience to warrant upsetting the plaintiff's choice of forum." Decker Coal Co. v. Commonwealth Edison Co., 805 F.2d 834, 843 (9th Cir. 1986) (emphasis added).
Courts consider a variety of public and private interest factors when determining whether to transfer a case for convenience. In our case, the relevant factors include: (1) the plaintiff's choice of forum; (2) the availability of compulsory process to compel attendance of unwilling non-party witnesses; (3) the ease of access to sources of proof; and (4) the difference in the costs of litigation between the two forums. Jones v. GNC Franchising, Inc., 211 F.3d 495, 498-99 (9th Cir. 2000).
Courts also consider "the administrative difficulties flowing from court congestion and [the] local interest in having localized controversies decided at home." Decker Coal Co., 805 F.2d at 843. Additionally, courts may consider the feasability of consolidation with another action. A.J. Industries, Inc. v. United States District Court (Real), 503 F.2d 384, 389 (9th Cir. 1974).
This order holds, and neither party disputes, that Quantum might have brought this action in the Western District of Texas. Crossroads resides and has a regularly established place of business there (Quantum Exh. L at 3). Nevertheless, this order declines to transfer this case because transfer would be neither in the interest of justice nor more convenient for the parties and witnesses.
First, this order considers relative court congestion and time to trial. Crossroads claims that the Northern District of California's docket is more congested. The difference in the time to trial between the Northern District of California and the Western District of Texas is negligible. For civil cases, the median number of months to trial in this district is 28.3 months compared to 23.6 months in the Western District of Texas. That is a difference just shy of five months. Furthermore, the available statistics provide little probative value where, as here, the evidence suggests greater congestion in the transferee forum (Federal Judicial Caseload ...