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Vollara LLC v. Ecotechworld Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

April 17, 2019

VOLLARA LLC, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ECOTECHWORLD, INC., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DAVID L. HORAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Defendants Ecotechworld, Inc. and Alexander Vysotsky have filed a Motion to Transfer Venue, see Dkt. No. 10, which United States District Judge Sam A. Lindsay has referred to the undersigned United States magistrate judge for hearing, if necessary, and determination, see Dkt. No. 14.

         Plaintiffs Vollara LLC, Vollara Concepts LLC, and DBG Group Investments filed a response. See Dkt. No. 20. And Defendants filed a reply. See Dkt. No. 23.

         Background

         Plaintiffs sell a variety of eco-friendly technologies, such as air and water purification devices, through expressly authorized distributors. See Dkt. No. 1 at 3. They are the owners or licensees of numerous trademarks and have registered several of the marks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). See Id. at 4. Plaintiffs' predecessor-in-interest, EcoQuest International, also used original trademarks in connection with the sale and distribution of its air filtration products and it registered several of the marks with the USPTO. See Id. Several of the products bearing EcoQuest trademarks also received designation as “Certified Space Technology” by the United States Space Foundation (“USSF”) - a non-profit that designates and distinguishes products derived from space-related technology. See id.

         Plaintiffs sued Defendants in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, asserting claims for trademark infringement, false advertising, unfair competition, and misappropriation. See Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants are using Plaintiffs' trademarks on their website and elsewhere on the Internet for the purpose of selling Defendants' products without Plaintiffs' consent. Plaintiffs also allege that Defendants' use of Plaintiffs' trademarks is likely to cause consumer confusion and deceive consumers by suggesting that the products offered for sale by Defendants are the same as or connected to Plaintiffs' products. See id.

         Plaintiffs, who are limited liability companies with their principal places of business in Dallas, Texas, alleged that venue is proper in the Northern District of Texas under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) because a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to Plaintiffs' claims occurred within this judicial district or, in the alternative, because a defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction in this district. See Id. at 2-3.

         Defendants move to transfer venue to the Central District of California. See Dkt. No. 10. Defendant Ecotech is a corporation with its principal place of business in Tarzana California, and Defendant Vysotsky is an individual who resides in Reseda, California. See Id. at 2-3. Defendants argue that their website, which is alleged to have been infringing upon Plaintiffs' trademarks, is located in Tarzana, California and that all repairs on air purifiers that are conducted by Defendants will require customers to ship their products or, if local, to bring the products to Los Angeles, California. See Id. at 5. Defendants also argue that Plaintiffs admit that the goods at issue are not the products that Plaintiffs maintain in Texas but only the products in Defendants' possession in California. See Id. And Defendants argue that the injunctive relief sought by Plaintiffs is primarily applicable in California and that the majority of witnesses are located in California. See Id. at 5-6.

         Plaintiffs respond that the Court should retain the case because all three plaintiffs have their principal places of business in Texas; Defendants are advertising and selling infringing products bearing Plaintiffs' trademarks to consumers within Texas through one or more highly interactive commercial websites; Defendants have and are continuing to accept and fulfill orders from Texas residents for these products; Plaintiffs suffered injuries in Texas; and the majority of Plaintiffs' witnesses are located in Texas. See Dkt. No. 20 at 5, 9-10.

         The Court now determines that Defendant's Motion to Transfer Venue [Dkt. No. 10] must be denied.

         Legal Standards

         28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) 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.” In applying Section 1404(a), the Court must first determine “whether the judicial district to which transfer is sought would have been a district in which the claim could have been filed.” In re Volkswagen AG, 371 F.3d 201, 203 (5th Cir. 2004) (“Volkswagen I”). Once this initial determination is made, the Court

turn[s] to the language of § 1404(a), which speaks to the issue of “the convenience of parties and witnesses” and to the issue of “in the interest of justice.” The determination of “convenience” turns on a number of private and public interest factors, none of which [is] given dispositive weight. The private concerns 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 trial of a case easy, expeditious and inexpensive. The public concerns include: (1) the administrative difficulties flowing from court congestion; (2) the local interest in having localized ...

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