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Lifestyle Solutions, Inc. v. Abbyson Living LLC

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

November 10, 2017

LIFESTYLE SOLUTIONS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
ABBYSON LIVING LLC and ABBYSON LIVING CORP., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ROY S. PYNE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         In this design patent case, the Court will now consider Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction and Improper Venue, or, In the Alternative, to Transfer [Dkt. # 10]. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will GRANT Defendants' motion and transfer this matter to the Central District of California (Central California) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The Court will not address whether venue is proper or the issue of personal jurisdiction.[1]

         I. BACKGROUND

         On November 22, 2016, Lifestyle Solutions, Inc. filed this lawsuit against Abbyson Living LLC and Abbyson Living Corp. Lifestyle's complaint alleges infringement of U.S. Design Patent D610, 366, titled “Sofa Bed With Multiple Positions.” The '366 Patent identifies Abedan Kanthasamy of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as the inventor and Lifestyle as the assignee.

         Lifestyle served Defendants on February 14, 2017. Summons [Dkt. # 6, 7]. In their first (and so far only) defensive move, Defendants filed the present motion on April 7 challenging personal jurisdiction, propriety of venue, and convenience of venue. Defs.' Motion [Dkt. # 10]. Defendants have yet to answer the Complaint.

         None of the parties to this case is a Texas entity. Lifestyle is a California corporation. Compl. [Dkt. # 1] ¶ 1. Abbyson LLC is a Delaware limited liability company. Id. ¶ 2. Ab-byson Corp. is a Nevada corporation. Id.

         Both Lifestyle and Defendants are headquartered in California. Lifestyle's principal place of business is in Fremont, which is in the Northern District of California. Compl. [Dkt. # 1] ¶ 1. Defendants share a headquarters in Moorpark, which is in Central California. Rafieha Decl. (Apr. 7, 2017) [Dkt. # 10-1] ¶ 2. Defendants also have showrooms in Nevada and North Carolina, Abbyson's Website [Dkt. # 16-2] at B-3, but have no employees outside of Central California. Rafieha Decl. (Apr. 7, 2017) [Dkt. # 10-1] ¶¶ 7-8.

         Defendants lease space at two distribution centers, both of which are in Central California. Rafieha Decl. (Apr. 7, 2017) [Dkt. # 10-1] ¶¶ 3-4. These distribution centers are owned by Weber Logistics, which is headquartered in Central California, and Updike Distribution Logistics, which is headquartered in Phoenix. Johnson Decl. (Apr. 7, 2017) [Dkt. # 10-2] ¶¶ 5-6. All of Abbyson's products sold and shipped in the United States are housed at either Abbyson's headquarters in Moorpark or at one of the third-party distribution centers. Rafieha Decl. (Apr. 7, 2017) [Dkt. # 10-1] ¶ 4.

         Defendants do not sell their products directly to consumers, but instead offer products through third-party retailer websites. Id. ¶ 17. When an Abbyson product is purchased through a third-party retailer's website, the retailer arranges for a shipper to retrieve the purchased product from one of the California distribution centers and ship it to the customer. Id.

         II. APPLICABLE LAW

         Regardless of whether the plaintiff's chosen venue is proper, “[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to another district court or division where it might have been brought.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). A court should grant a motion to transfer under § 1404(a) if the transferee venue is clearly more convenient than the plaintiff's chosen venue. In re Volkswagen, 545 F.3d 304, 315 (5th Cir. 2008) (en banc).

         The Fifth Circuit applies the “public” and “private” factors for determining forum non conveniens when deciding a § 1404(a) question. In re Volkswagen, 545 F.3d at 314 n.9. The “private” interest factors include: (1) the relative ease of access to sources of proof; (2) the availability of compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses; (3) the cost of attendance for willing witnesses; and (4) all other practical problems that make a trial easy, expeditious, and inexpensive. Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 241 n.6 (1981). The “public” interest factors are: “(1) the administrative difficulties flowing from court congestion; (2) the local interest in having localized interests decided at home; (3) the familiarity of the forum with the law that will govern the case; and (4) the avoidance of unnecessary problems of conflicts of laws [or in] the application of foreign law.” In re Volkswagen, 545 F.3d at 315.

         The plaintiff's choice of venue is not a factor in this analysis. Id. at 314-15; id. at 314 n.10. Instead, the plaintiff's choice of venue contributes to the defendant's burden in proving the transferee venue is “clearly more convenient” than the transferor venue. Id. at 315; In re Nintendo Co., 589 F.3d 1194, 1200 (Fed. Cir. 2009). And though the private and public factors apply to most transfer cases, they are not exhaustive or exclusive and no single factor is dispositive. In re Volkswagen, 545 F.3d at 315.

         “Motions to transfer venue are to be decided based on ‘the situation which existed when suit was instituted.'” In re EMC Corp., 501 Fed.Appx. 973, 976 (Fed. Cir. 2013) (quoting Hoffman v. Blaski, 363 U.S. 335, 343 (2014)).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Whether this case could have been brought in the Central ...


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