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Jasmin Larian LLC v. Joseph D'arezzo, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

July 2, 2019

JASMIN LARIAN, LLC, doing business as CULT GAIA, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSEPH D'AREZZO, INC.; and DOES 1 through 10, inclusive, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE [13]

          OTIS D. WRIGHT, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Presently before the Court is Defendant Joseph D'Arezzo, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss, Stay, or Transfer Venue to the Southern District of New York (“Motion”). (ECF No. 13.) For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion to Transfer Venue to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (ECF No. 13).[1] Accordingly, Defendant's request to dismiss and/or stay this action is DENIED as MOOT.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On December 17, 2018, Plaintiff Jasmin Larian, LLC, doing business as Cult Gaia (“Plaintiff”) filed its Complaint against Defendant Joseph D'Arezzo, Inc. alleging four causes of action: (1) trade dress infringement pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1125; (2) common law trade dress infringement; (3) violation of California Business and Professions Code section 17200, et. seq; and (4) unjust enrichment. (See generally Compl., ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff's claims are based on the allegation that Defendant manufactured, promoted, and sold a bag called the “BShipper, ” which is a “near exact cop[y] of [Plaintiff's] signature Ark bag.” (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 36.)

         Prior to this action, in February 2018, Steve Madden, Ltd. (“Steve Madden”), filed a lawsuit against Plaintiff relating to the same handbag, the BShipper. See Steve Madden, Ltd. v. Jasmin Larian, LLC (the “New York Action”), No. 18-cv-2043-RWS (S.D.N.Y. filed Mar. 6, 2018.) Defendant supplies the BShipper bag to Steve Madden. (Mot. 4; Opp'n to Mot. (“Opp'n”) 2, ECF No. 21.) Steve Madden is seeking declaratory judgment that Plaintiff's Ark bag is not entitled to Lanham Act protections and that the BShipper bag does not constitute trade dress infringement. (Mot. 2-3.) In response, Plaintiff filed counterclaims against Steve Madden that the BShipper bag violated 15 U.S.C. § 1125 and various other New York state law claims. (Mot. 3.)

         On February 6, 2019, Defendant moved to dismiss, stay, or transfer this action based on the first-to-file rule and 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). (See generally Mot.)

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         “For the convenience of parties and witnesses and 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).

         Cases are also transferred based on the “first-to-file” rule. The first-to-file rule is a doctrine of federal comity; a district court may decline to exercise jurisdiction over an action when a complaint involving the same parties and issues has been filed in another district. Pacesetter Sys., Inc. v. Medtronic Inc., 678 F.2d 93, 94-95 (9th Cir. 1982). The first-to-file rule seeks to conserve limited judicial resources and avoid duplicate or inconsistent judgments on similar issues. Id. at 95.

         In considering whether to apply this doctrine, a court must consider: (1) the chronology of the two actions; (2) the similarity of the parties; and (3) the similarity of the issues. See Kohn Law Grp., Inc. v. Auto Parts Mfg. Miss., Inc., 787 F.3d 1237, 1240 (9th Cir. 2015). If a later-filed action meets the first-to-file requirements, the second court may transfer, stay, or dismiss the case. Alltrade, Inc. v. Uniweld Prods., Inc., 946 F.2d 622, 623 (9th Cir. 1991).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         The Court finds that all three factors weigh in favor of transferring this action to the Southern District of New York.

         A. ...


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