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Graphics Properties Holdings Inc. v. Asus Computer International, Inc.

United States District Court, Third Circuit

June 28, 2013

GRAPHICS PROPERTIES HOLDINGS INC., Plaintiff,
v.
ASUS COMPUTER INTERNATIONAL, INC., Defendant.

Brian E. Farnan, Esq., Rosemary J. Piergiovanni, Esq., FARNAN LLP, Wilmington, DE.

Martin J. Black, Esq., Kevin M. Flannery, Esq., Robert L. Masterson, Esq., Teri-Lynn A. Evans, Esq., DECHERT LLP, Philadelphia, PA. Attorneys for Plaintiff Graphics Properties Holdings Inc.

John G. Day, Esq., Andrew Colin Mayo, Esq., ASHBY & GEDDES, Wilmington, DE. John P. Schnurer, Esq., Michael J. Engle, Esq., PERKINS COlE LLP, San Diego, CA. Attorneys for Defendant ASUS Computer International Inc.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

LEONARD P. STARK, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Defendant ASUS Computer International Inc.'s ("ACI") motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and improper venue or, in the alternative, to transfer the present action to the Northern District of California. (D.I. 11) The Court held a hearing on October 11, 2012. (D.I. 34) ("Tr.") Subsequently, pursuant to the Court's Order (D.I. 32), the parties conducted jurisdictional discovery and then submitted supplemental letter briefs to the Court. (D.I. 56, 58) On May 16, 2013, the Court held a telephone conference and heard further arguments in connection with ACI's motion. (D.I. 73) For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny ACI's motion.

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Graphics Properties Holdings Inc. ("GPH") originally alleged infringement of U.S. Patent Nos.: 5, 896, 119 ("the '119 patent"), 6, 816, 145 ("the '145 patent"), and 8, 144, 158 ("the '158 patent") (collectively "the asserted patents") against three Defendants: ACI, ASUS Technology Pte Ltd., and ASUSTeK Computer Inc. (D.I. 8) Following the October 2012 hearing, the parties stipulated to the dismissal, without prejudice, of GPH's claims against Defendants ASUS Technology Pte Ltd. and ASUSTeK Computer Inc. (D.I. 47)

The '119 patent is asserted against ACI's VH-242H video monitor. The '145 patent is asserted against the VH-242H video monitor as well as ACI's N53J laptop computer. The '158 patent is asserted against the N53J laptop and ACI's "Eee Pad Slider" tablet computer. (D.I. 8)

GPH is currently asserting one or more of the same patents in a number of ongoing infringement actions pending in this District. ( See C.A. Nos. 12-209, 12-211, 12-212, 12-213, 12-214, 12-1392, 12-1393, 12-1394, 12-1395, 12-1397, and 12-1399) The defendants in each of these cases have answered and submitted to jurisdiction in Delaware.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff GPH is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in New York. GPH was formerly named "Silicon Graphics, Inc." (D.I. 8 ¶ 11) Silicon Graphics was a California corporation that "developed technology and intellectual property used in the graphics, computer processing, and display segments, " including the asserted patents. ( Id. ) Silicon Graphics was headquartered in Mountain View, California, which is in the Northern District of California. (D.I. 11 Ex. 1)

Defendant ACI is a California corporation with its principal place of business in Fremont, California, which is also in the Northern District of California. (D.I. 12 at 2) ACI is not incorporated or registered to do business in Delaware. ACI does not have employees, documents, or places of business in Delaware. According to ACI, none of the accused products were designed or manufactured in Delaware. ( Id. at 2-3)

III. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Motion to Dismiss Based on Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

Determining the existence of personal jurisdiction requires a two-part analysis. First, the Court must consider whether a defendant's actions come within any of the provisions of Delaware's long-arm statute. See Intel v. Broadcom, 167 F.Supp.2d 692, 700 (D. Del. 2001). Next, the Court must determine whether exercising jurisdiction over the defendant in this State comports with the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. See id. Due Process is satisfied if the Court finds at least "minimum contacts" between the non-resident defendant and the forum state, "such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (internal quotation marks omitted). For the second step Due Process analysis, the Court applies the law of the Federal Circuit. See Beverly Hills Fan Co. v. Royal Sovereign Corp., 21 F.3d 1558, 1564 (Fed. Cir. 1994).

When a defendant moves to dismiss a lawsuit for lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of showing the basis for the Court's jurisdiction. See Marten v. Godwin, 499 F.3d 290, 295-296 (3d Cir. 2007).

B. Venue

A court may dismiss a lawsuit for improper venue pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3). For purposes of venue, a corporation "reside[s] in any judicial district in which it is subject to personal jurisdiction at the time the action is commenced." 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c). The moving party has the burden of proving that venue is improper. See Myers v. Am. Dental Ass'n, 695 F.2d 716, 724 (3d Cir. 1982).

C. Transfer

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), "[f]or 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 or to any district or division to which all parties have consented." As the Third Circuit has explained, this provision "was intended to vest district courts with broad discretion to determine, on an individualized, case-by-case basis, whether convenience and fairness considerations weigh in favor of transfer." Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 883 (3d Cir. 1995).

A motion brought under Section 1404(a) requires the Court to undertake a two-step analysis. First, the Court determines whether the action could have been brought in the proposed transferee forum. See Shutte v. Armco Steel Corp., 431 F.2d 22, 24 (3d Cir. 1970). Next, the Court must balance the appropriate considerations and determine whether, under the particular facts of the case, the request to transfer venue should be granted. Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879. At this step the Court takes particular care to consider at least the private and public interest factors identified by the Third Circuit in Jumara. See id. at 879-80. The private factors include: (1) "the plaintiffs forum preference as manifested in the original choice;" (2) "the defendant's preference;" (3) "whether the claim arose elsewhere;" (4) "the convenience of the parties as indicated by their relative physical and financial condition;" (5) "the convenience of the witnesses - but only to the extent that the witnesses may actually be unavailable for trial in one of the fora;" and (6) "the location of books and records (similarly limited to the extent that the files could not be produced in the alternative forum)." Id. at 879 (internal citations omitted). The public interest factors include: (1) "the enforceablity of the judgment;" (2) "practical considerations that could make the trial easy, expeditious, or inexpensive;" (3) "the relative administrative difficulty in the two fora resulting from court congestion;" (4) "the local interest in deciding local controversies at home;" and (5) "the familiarity of the trial judge with the applicable state law in diversity cases." Id. at 879-80 (internal citations omitted).

The burden rests squarely on the party seeking transfer "to establish that a balancing of proper interests weighs in favor of the transfer." Id. That burden is a heavy one: "unless the balance of convenience of the parties is strongly in favor of defendant, the plaintiffs choice of forum should prevail." Shutte, 431 F.2d at 25 (internal quotation marks omitted) (emphasis in original); see also CNH Am. LLC v. Kinzenbaw, 2009 WL 3737653, at *2 (D. Del. Nov. 9, 2009). Unless the defendant "is truly regional in character" - that is, it operates essentially exclusively in a region that does not include Delaware - transfer is often inappropriate. See Praxair, Inc. v. ATML Inc., 2004 WL 883395, at *1 (D. Del. Apr. 20, 2004). When transfer is sought by a defendant with operations on a national or international scale, that defendant "must prove that litigating in Delaware would pose a unique or unusual burden on ...


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