Magistrate Judge Burke Grants Motions to Transfer to N.D. Cal.

In a series of related actions brought by Papst Licensing GmbH & Co. KG, Magistrate Judge Christopher J. Burke granted Defendants’ motions to transfer to the Northern District of California. E.g., Papst Licensing GMBH & Co. KG v. Lattice Semiconductor Corp., C.A. No. 14-1375-LPS-CJB (D. Del. Sept. 1, 2015). Plaintiff is a German corporation, while all Defendants are incorporated in Delaware but with no offices or employees in the state.  Id. at 2.

Analyzing the Jumara factors, the Court ultimately concluded that only the first factor (plaintiff’s forum preference) weighed against transfer. It observed that Defendants had “focus[ed] heavily” on the fact that Delaware was not Plaintiff’s “home turf,” but the Court explained that it “has previously concluded-after reviewing this Court’s prior case law discussing this ‘home turf’ issue-that whether Delaware is a plaintiffs ‘home turf,’ in and of itself, has no independent significance regarding the standard used in the overall Jumara balance of convenience analysis, nor to the analysis as to this first Jumara private interest factor. . . . Of course, if a plaintiff . . . has no ties to Delaware and is based overseas, those facts will certainly be relevant in the analysis of other Jumara factors.”  Id. at 8 n.3 (citations omitted).

While Defendants’ forum preference and where the claims arose “squarely favor[ed] transfer,” id. at 23, it concluded that the convenience of witnesses and location of books and records only slightly favored transfer, see id. at 14-18.  On the other hand, the convenience of the parties was ultimately neutral, given the fact that Plaintiff would need to travel far in either venue, that California may be slightly more convenient for Defendants, but because they were all incorporated in Delaware, they should not be meaningfully inconvenienced given their decision to incorporate there.  See id. at 12-14.

As to the public interest factors, practical considerations weighed in favor of transfer where litigating in California would avoid some added cost of retaining Delaware counsel. Id at 20. The local interests factor slightly favored transfer where “there [were] some number of persons (e.g., Defendants’ employees and third-party witnesses) located in the transferee district with a connection to this case, and none in Delaware, it can be said that the Northern District of California has some greater local interest in the case than does Delaware,” although Defendants had not shown that “this case has outsized resonance to the citizens of the transferee district, or that its outcome would significantly impact that district.” Id. at 21.

Ultimately, the Court concluded that “Defendants have demonstrated that the balance of convenience is strongly in their favor. To be sure, any one or two factors would not be enough, in and of themselves, to make a persuasive case for transfer. But here the cumulative effect of the evidence, relating to many different Jumara factors, demonstrates the far more significant connections that the Norther District of California has with the case (as compared to this District). And with little to counter-balance those many connections, other than the fact that Plaintiff chose this forum for suit, the Court concludes that transfer is appropriate.” Id. at 23.

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