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Acoustic Technology, Inc. v. Silver Springs Networks, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Marshall Division

March 25, 2017

ACOUSTIC TECHNOLOGY, INC.,
v.
SILVER SPRING NETWORKS, INC.,

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ROY S. PAVNE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Acoustic Technology, Inc. (“ATI”) accuses Silver Spring Networks, Inc. (“Silver Spring”) of infringing United States Patent Nos. 5, 986, 574 and 6, 509, 841, both of which generally relate to automated technology for reading utility meters. See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 13-20, ECF No. 49. Silver Spring moves to change venue to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Def.'s Venue Mot., ECF No. 32. For the following reasons, Silver Spring's motion is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         ATI is a Massachusetts corporation headquartered in East Boston, Massachusetts. Bassiouni Decl. ¶ 3, February 2, 2017, ECF No. 48-1. ATI does not have employees or a place of business in Texas, other than a registered agent for service of process in Dallas, Texas. See Collins Decl. ¶ 8, Sept. 29, 2016, ECF No. 32-2. ATI does, however, market, sell, and maintain emergency notification warning systems in Texas and within the Eastern District of Texas. Bassiouni Decl. ¶¶ 5-6. As a result, ATI has generated sales and paid Texas franchise taxes. Id. ¶ 8. ATI does not do business in California. Id. ¶ 10.

         Silver Spring is a Delaware corporation that has been headquartered in Northern California since 2003, first in Redwood City, California and more recently in San Jose, California. Dresselhuys Decl. ¶ 3, Nov. 3, 2016, ECF No. 32-1. Members of Silver Spring's leadership team and employees with technical knowledge of Silver Spring's products live and work in Northern California, with the exception of one Vice President who lives and works from his home in Fairhope, Alabama. Id. ¶¶ 4-12. Silver Spring maintains product records and unreleased prototypes at its headquarters in San Jose. Id. ¶ 14. Aside from one Silver Spring field employee who works one day per week from his home in Lewisville, Texas, Silver Spring does not have any employees, documents, assets, or offices in the district. Id. ¶ 17. Silver Spring's only physical presence in Texas is a facility in San Antonio and the 37 employees that work there. Def.'s Interrog. Resp. 6, ECF No. 48-11.

         DISCUSSION

         A district court can transfer a case to another district where the case might have been brought for “the convenience of parties and witnesses” and “in the interests of justice.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Transfer of a case serves the interests of justice if the party seeking a change of venue shows the transferee district to be “clearly more convenient” than the transferor district. In re Volkswagen of Am., Inc., 545 F.3d 304, 315 (5th Cir. 2008) (“Volkswagen II”). Public and private interest factors guide the analysis. In re Volkswagen AG, 371 F.3d 201, 203 (5th Cir. 2004) (“Volkswagen I”). The private factors include:

(1) ease of access to evidence (“sources of proof”);
(2) subpoena power over potential witnesses;
(3) cost of attendance for willing witnesses; and
(4) other practical problems.

Volkswagen II, 545 F.3d at 315. The public factors include:

(1) administrative difficulties flowing from court ...

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