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MacroPoint, LLC, v. Ruiz Food Products, Inc.

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

August 29, 2017

MACROPOINT, LLC,
v.
RUIZ FOOD PRODUCTS, INC.

          ORDER

          K. NICOLE MITCHELL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         MacroPoint, LLC (“MacroPoint” or “Plaintiff”) asserts infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 9, 429, 659 (“the ‘659 patent”) and 8, 275, 358 (“the ‘358 patent”). Before the Court is Ruiz Food Products' (“Ruiz”, “Ruiz Foods”, or “Defendant”) § 1404 Motion to Transfer or Alternatively, to Stay Pending Related Litigation. Doc. No. 13.

         The Court DENIES Ruiz's Motion to Transfer. Doc. No. 13. The Court further DENIES as Moot Ruiz's Request to Stay Pending Related Litigation. Doc. No. 13.

         BACKGROUND

         On August 30, 2016, MacroPoint filed the instant suit against Ruiz for infringement of the ‘659 Patent and the ‘358 Patent. Ruiz filed a Motion to Transfer to the Northern District of Ohio, or, Alternatively, to Stay Pending Resolution of Related Litigation. Doc. No. 13.

         On May 22, 2017, the Supreme Court decided TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods. 137 S.Ct. 1514, 1519 (2017). The Court subsequently ordered the parties to file supplemental briefing addressing the effect, if any, of the TC Heartland decision on Ruiz's pending Motion to Transfer Venue, and any need for jurisdictional discovery. Doc. No. 50. Before the Court is the fully briefed § 1404 Motion to Transfer Venue and Supplemental Briefing. Docs. No. 13; 24; 25; 51, 52.

         MacroPoint is an Ohio limited liability company with its principal place of business in Cleveland, Ohio. Doc. No. 1 at 2. Ruiz is a California corporation with its headquarters in Dinuba, California. Doc. No. 13 at 3. Ruiz also maintains a facility in Denison, TX, which is in the Eastern District of Texas. Id. at 2. FourKites, which sells the allegedly infringing products to Ruiz, is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Chicago, Illinois. Id. at 4.

         APPLICABLE LAW

          I. Venue Transfer Under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a)

         For 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). The threshold question for a motion to transfer venue is whether the transferee judicial district “would have been a district in which the claim could have been filed.” In re Volkswagen AG (Volkswagen I), 371 F.3d 201, 203 (5th Cir. 2004). If this threshold is met, the court will balance private and public factors relating to the convenience of transferring venue, and the interests of the original and transferee venues in hearing the case. See In re Nintendo Co., Ltd., 589 F.3d 1194, 1198 (Fed. Cir. 2009).

         The private factors are: (1) the relative ease of access to sources of proof; (2) the availability of compulsory process to secure witness attendance; (3) the cost of attendance for willing witnesses; and (4) all other practical problems that make trial of a case easy, expeditious, and inexpensive. Volkswagen I, 371 F.3d at 203. The public factors are: (1) the administrative difficulties caused by court congestion; (2) the forum's interest in having localized interests decided at home; (3) the forum's familiarity with the law that will govern the case; and (4) the avoidance of unnecessary problems of conflict of laws of the application of foreign law. Id.

         No single factor is dispositive. Id. A case should be transferred only if the transferee forum is clearly more convenient than the original forum. In re Volkswagen of Am., Inc. (Volkswagen II), 545 F.3d 304, 315 (5th Cir. 2008) (en banc).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Transfer Under 28 U.S.C. § 1404

Although Ruiz's original § 1404 Motion to Transfer requested transfer to the Northern district of Ohio, its supplemental brief conceded that “TC Heartland appears to have rendered that district an improper venue. . . .” Doc. No. 51 at 1. Ruiz modifies its request to transfer this case to the Eastern District of California. Id. The Court thus analyzes this modified request. i.Threshold Factor Because Ruiz is incorporated in California, this action could have originally been brought in the Eastern District of California, under the first prong of the patent venue statute. Thus, the threshold factor for transfer is satisfied.

         ii. Private Interest Factors

         (a) Relative Ease of Access to Sources of Proof

         The first private factor is the relative ease of access to sources of proof in each district. See In re Volkswagen of Am., Inc., 545 F.3d 304, 315 (5th Cir. 2008) (en banc). Notwithstanding technological advances in the transportation of electronic documents, “the Court must consider the actual location of documents and physical evidence.” Nobel Biz, Inc. v. Glob. Connect, LLC, 2013 WL 12171139, at *3 (E.D. Tex. Mar. 28, 2013) (citing Volkswagen II, 545 F.3d at 316). Moreover, because this is a patent infringement case, the Court assumes that most of the relevant proof will come from the accused infringer. In re Genentech, Inc., 566 F.3d 1338, 1345 (Fed. Cir. 2009) (citation omitted).

         Ruiz states that the Eastern District of California “is the location of its witnesses, documents, and things.” Doc. No. 51 at 10. MacroPoint responds that “there are sources of proof in this judicial district” and that “[a]t least some responsive information from Defendant ...


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