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Wireless Media Innovations, LLC v. Leapfrog Enterprises, Inc.

United States District Court, District of Delaware

March 20, 2014

WIRELESS MEDIA INNOVATIONS, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
LEAPFROG ENTERPRISES, INC., Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

SHERRY R. FALLON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

I. INTRODUCTION

On September 5, 2013, plaintiff Wireless Media Innovations, LLC ("WMI") filed this action against defendant LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. ("LeapFrog") alleging infringement of United States Patent Nos. 6, 148, 291 ("the '291 patent") and 5, 712, 789 ("the '789 patent"). (D.I. 1) Pending before the court is LeapFrog's motion to transfer venue to the Northern District of California. (D.I. 13) The court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1338(a). For the following reasons, I recommend that the court deny LeapFrog's motion to transfer. (D.I. 13)

II. BACKGROUND

WMI is a Delaware limited liability company that was formed by an organizer located in Texas. (D.I. 14 at 3; D.I. 15, Exs. 10-11) Additionally, WMI's manager, a limited liability corporation named Auctus, maintains its principal place of business in Texas. (D.I. 14 at 3; D.I. 15, Exs. 13-14)

LeapFrog is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business located in Emeryville, California. (D.I. 14 at 3) LeapFrog designs and manufactures educational products for children. (Id.) LeapFrog has no offices, employees, marketing, or sales operations in Delaware, and does not own property in Delaware. (Id. at 3-4) LeapFrog maintains its documents, information, and tangible things in California. (Id. at 4) All alleged acts of infringement in the present matter occurred at LeapFrog's distribution center in California.[1] (Id. at 6)

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Section 1404(a) of Title 28 of the United States Code grants district courts the authority to transfer venue "[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interests of justice ... to any other district or division where it might have been brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Much has been written about the legal standard for motions to transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). See, e.g., In re Link_A_Media Devices Corp., 662 F.3d 1221 (Fed. Cir. 2011); Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873 (3d Cir. 1995); Helicos Biosciences Corp. v. Illumina, Inc., 858 F.Supp.2d 367 (D. Del. 2012).

Referring specifically to the analytical framework described in Helicos, the court starts with the premise that a defendant's state of incorporation has always been "a predictable, legitimate venue for bringing suit" and that "a plaintiff, as the injured party, generally ha[s] been 'accorded [the] privilege of bringing an action where he chooses.'" 858 F.Supp.2d at 371 (quoting Norwood v. Kirkpatrick, 349 U.S. 29, 31 (1955)). Indeed, the Third Circuit in Jumara reminds the reader that "[f]he burden of establishing the need for transfer .. . rests with the movant" and that, "in ruling on defendants' motion, the plaintiffs choice of venue should not be lightly disturbed." 55 F.3d at 879 (citation omitted).

The Third Circuit goes on to recognize that,

[i]n ruling on § 1404(a) motions, courts have not limited their consideration to the three enumerated factors in § 1404(a) (convenience of parties, convenience of witnesses, or interests of justice), and, indeed, commentators have called on the courts to "consider all relevant factors to determine whether on balance the litigation would more conveniently proceed and the interests of justice be better served by transfer to a different forum."

Id. (citation omitted). The Court then describes some of the "many variants of the private and public interests protected by the language of § 1404(a)." Id.

The private interests have included: plaintiffs forum of preference as manifested in the original choice; the defendant's preference; whether the claim arose elsewhere; the convenience of the parties as indicated by their relative physical and financial condition; 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 the location of books and records (similarly limited to the extent that the files could not be produced in the alternative forum).
The public interests have included: the enforceability of the judgment; practical considerations that could make the trial easy, expeditious, or inexpensive; the relative administrative difficulty in the two fora resulting from court congestion; the local interest in deciding local controversies at home; the public policies of the fora; ...

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