United States District Court, D. Delaware
GOOD TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION and GOOD TECHNOLOGY SOFTWARE, INC., Plaintiffs,
AIRWATCH, LLC, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
CHRISTOPHER J. BURKE, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiffs Good Technology Corporation and Good Technology Software, Inc. (collectively "Plaintiffs" or "Good") filed the instant patent infringement suit against Defendant Airwatch, LLC ("Defendant" or "AirWatch"). Presently pending before the Court is Defendant's motion to transfer venue (the "Motion") to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ("Northern District of Georgia"). (D.I. 16) For the reasons that follow, the Court recommends that Defendant's Motion be GRANTED.
A. Procedural History
The instant case was filed on August 22, 2014. (D.I. 1) In light of a later-filed Amended Complaint, Good now asserts that AirWatch is directly, indirectly and willfully infringing United States Patent Nos. 8, 117, 344 (the "'344 patent"), 8, 812, 702 (the "'702 patent") and 6, 023, 708 ("the "'708 patent"). (D.I. 12) The '344 patent and the '702 patent relate to systems and methods for providing global and secure access to services and to unified (or synchronized) workspace elements in a computer network. ( Id., ex. A, C) The '708 patent is directed to a system and method for using a global translator to synchronize multiple copies of a workspace element in a secure network environment, where that environment includes a global server connected to multiple clients. ( Id., ex. B) The Amended Complaint accuses of infringement certain AirWatch products that provide hardware and software solutions for providing and securing remote access to corporate resources and services (the "accused products"). (D.I. 12 at ¶ 14 & n.1)
On September 2, 2014, Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark referred the instant case to this Court to resolve any and all matters with regard to scheduling, as well as any motions to dismiss, stay and/or transfer venue. (D.I. 7) On October 3, 2014, AirWatch answered the Amended Complaint, (D.I. 13), and on October 31, 2014, it filed the instant Motion, (D.I. 16). The Court subsequently held a Case Management Conference on December 8, 2014, and entered a Scheduling Order thereafter. (D.I. 31) Trial in the case is scheduled for December 12, 2016. ( Id. )
B. Other Actions Involving the Parties
There are a number of related legal actions that impact the instant Motion.
In addition to this case, Good and AirWatch are currently litigating a number of other matters against each other around the world. A number of these cases are in the Northern District of Georgia. On July 18, 2014, AirWatch filed a complaint against Plaintiffs in the Northern District of Georgia, asserting infringement of United States Patent No. 8, 713, 646 (the "'646 patent"). On October 14, 2014, AirWatch also filed a complaint against Plaintiffs alleging infringement of United States Patent No. 8, 826, 432 (the "'432 patent"). And in between the filing of those two suits, AirWatch filed a complaint against Plaintiffs on August 2, 2013, in the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia, asserting Georgia state law claims of defamation and deceptive trade practices. (D.I. 17 at 5; D.I. 19, exs. E-F; D.I. 23 at 2-3)
For its part, after it filed this case, Good brought another suit in this Court asserting infringement of the '344 patent. That case, brought against Defendant MobileIron, Inc., was filed on October 14, 2014. ( Good Technology Corp. v. MobileIron Inc., Civil Action No. 14-1308-LPS-CJB (D. Del.) (" MobileIron "), (D.I. 1)) That matter has also been assigned to Chief Judge Stark and it has been referred to this Court for the same purposes as was the instant matter. ( MobileIron, D.I. 6)
C. The Parties and Related Facts, Persons and Entities
Both Plaintiffs are Delaware corporations that have their principal place of business in Sunnyvale, California. (D.I. 12 at ¶ 8)
AirWatch is a Delaware limited liability company with its principal place of business in Atlanta, Georgia. ( Id. at ¶ 9) The company, which describes itself as a leading provider of enterprise mobile management and security solutions, has more than 10, 000 customers globally and more than 1, 600 employees across nine global offices. (D.I. 24, ex. A) Approximately 1, 180 of these employees are located in AirWatch's Atlanta offices (which are, in turn, located in the Northern District of Georgia); AirWatch's management and its primary research and development facilities are also located in those same offices. (D.I. 18 at ¶ 3) AirWatch's other United States-based offices are found in Akron, Ohio; Miami, Florida and Washington, D.C.; it has no personnel or offices in Delaware. ( Id. at ¶¶ 5, 7) AirWatch was acquired in January 2014 by VMware, Inc. for $1.175 billion in cash and $365 million of installment payments and assumed unvested equity. (D.I. 24, ex. A)
Virtually all of AirWatch's research, design, development and marketing of the accused AirWatch products took place in Atlanta, and that is the place where witnesses with knowledge of those issues work today. (D.I. 18 at ¶ 4) Nearly all of AirWatch's electronic and paper records regarding those subjects are located in Atlanta. ( Id. ) AirWatch has, however, sold the accused products nationally, including in the District of Delaware and the Northern District of Georgia, as the accused products are downloaded by customers via the Internet. (D.I. 12 at ¶¶ 14-15; D.I. 18 at ¶ 6)
There are a total of 11 inventors of the three patents-in-suit. According to their residences as listed on the patents, 10 of the 11 inventors live in California, while one lives in the State of Washington. (D.I. 12, exs. A-C) The attorneys responsible for prosecuting the patents-in-suit have offices located in California and Virginia. (D.I. 17 at 4; D.I. 19, exs. B-D)
A. Legal Standard
Section 1404(a) of Title 28 provides the statutory basis for a transfer inquiry. It provides that "[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." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). "[S]ection 1404(a) 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) (citing Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 30-31 (1988)).
The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has emphasized that when considering a motion to transfer venue pursuant to Section 1404(a), "courts normally defer to a plaintiff's choice of forum" and thus "the plaintiff's choice of venue should not be lightly disturbed." Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879-80 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). This general principle, drawn from the historic respect accorded a plaintiff's choice of venue, suggests that "a transfer is not to be liberally granted." Shutte v. Armco Steel Corp., 431 F.2d 22, 25 (3d Cir. 1970) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
The party seeking a transfer has the burden "to establish that a balancing of proper interests weigh[s] in favor of the transfer[.]" Id. ; see also Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879. That burden is a heavy one: "unless the balance of convenience of the parties is strongly in favor of defendant, the plaintiff's choice of forum should prevail." Shutte, 431 F.2d at 25 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted) (emphasis added); see also CNH Am. LLC v. Kinzenbaw, C.A. No. 08-945(GMS), 2009 WL 3737653, at *2 (D. Del. Nov. 9, 2009). Accordingly, "transfer will be denied if the factors are evenly balanced or weigh only slightly in favor of the transfer." Angiodynamics, Inc. v. Vascular Solutions, Inc., C.A. No. 09-554-JJF, 2010 WL 3037478, at *2 (D. Del. July 30, 2010); see also Illumina, Inc. v. Complete Genomics, Inc., Civil Action No. 10-649, 2010 WL 4818083, at *2 (D. Del. Nov. 9, 2010).
The Third Circuit has observed that, in undertaking this transfer analysis, "there is no definitive formula or list of the factors to consider[.]" Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879. Instead, courts must analyze "all relevant factors" to determine whether "the litigation would more conveniently proceed and the interests of justice be better served by transfer to a different forum." Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Nevertheless, in Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873 (3d Cir. 1995), the Third Circuit identified a set of private interest and public interest factors that should be taken into account in this analysis (the " Jumara factors"). The private interest factors to consider include:
 [The] plaintiff's forum 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).
Id. at 879. The public interest factors to consider include:
 [T]he 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, ... and  the familiarity of the trial judge with the applicable state law in diversity cases.
Id. at 879-80 (citations omitted). District courts should explicitly consider each of these factors, at least to the extent that the parties make "arguments" about them. In re Link_A_Media Devices Corp., 662 F.3d 1221, 1224 (Fed. Cir. 2011) (citing Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879) (noting that it would be "improper to ignore" any of the factors in such a circumstance).
1. Appropriateness of Transferee Venue
The first step in the transfer analysis is to determine whether this action could have been brought in the proposed transferee venue. "The party moving for transfer bears the burden of proving that the action properly could have been brought in the transferee district in the first instance." Mallinckrodt Inc. v. E-Z-Em Inc., 670 F.Supp.2d 349, 356 (D. Del. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Here, there is no dispute that this infringement action could have been properly brought in the Northern ...