The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit denied a patent owner’s petition for writ of mandamus, finding that the district court properly transferred a case from the Eastern District of Virginia to the Northern District of California because the center of the alleged infringing activities occurred in California. In re: SunStone Information Defense, Inc., Case No. 2022-121 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 11, 2022) (Moore, Dyk, Stoll, JJ). (non-precedential).
SunStone filed a patent infringement suit against F5 Networks and one of its customers in the Eastern District of Virginia. F5 Networks moved to transfer the case to the Northern District of California pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), arguing that at the time of filing, SunStone was headquartered in Northern California, and the F5 Networks subsidiary that designed and developed the accused products was also located in the area. F5 Networks also noted that essentially all of the relevant documents and knowledgeable employees were in Northern California.
The district court granted F5 Networks’ motion, explaining that F5 Networks satisfied its burden of proving that transfer was warranted based on convenience of the parties and witnesses and because California was the “center of the alleged infringing activities.” The district court also noted that neither party disputed that the action “might have been brought” in the Northern District of California. SunStone petitioned for writ of mandamus.
The Federal Circuit applied the law of the regional circuit (the Fourth Circuit), which requires finding a clear abuse of discretion in order to overturn a district court’s transfer decision. The Court found that SunStone failed to meet this “stringent standard.” The Court also found that SunStone’s choice of forum was not entitled to significant weight because it was not SunStone’s home forum and had no specific connection to the infringement claims. The Court therefore denied SunStone’s petition.
Practice Note: This is another decision in a long line of recent Federal Circuit rulings relating to venue, which are summarized in an article related to a string of transfer denials in the Western District of Texas and our 2022 IP Outlook Report: The Developments Shaping Patent Law.