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Data Locker Inc. v. Apricorn, Inc.

United States District Court, Tenth Circuit

July 8, 2013

DATA LOCKER, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
APRICORN, INC. and LENOVO UNITED STATES, INC., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. THOMAS MARTEN, JUDGE

The following matter comes to the court on the defendants’ motions to transfer (Dkts. 55, 59). Having considered the briefs and the evidence submitted with them, the court denies the defendants’ motions to transfer this case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

I. Background

Plaintiff Data Locker, Inc. (“Data Locker”) is a corporation with its principal place of business in Kansas. Defendant Apricorn, Inc. is a corporation with its principal place of business in California. Defendant Lenovo (United States) Inc. is a corporation with its principal place of business in North Carolina.

Data Locker markets and sells portable secure hard drive products under U.S. Patent No. 8, 185, 709. On September 24, 2012, Data Locker filed the present action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas alleging that the defendants, which also market and sell portable secure hard drive products, infringed U.S. Patent No. 8, 185, 709.

II. Legal Standard – Motion to Transfer

“Under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), a district court may transfer an action ‘[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, [and] in the interest of justice, . . . to any other district or division where it might have been brought.’” Emp’rs Mut. Cas. Ins. Co. v. Bartile Roofs, Inc., 618 F.3d 1153, 1167 (10th Cir. 2010) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a)). When deciding a motion to transfer under § 1404(a), the court considers the following discretionary factors:

the plaintiff's choice of forum; the accessibility of witnesses and other sources of proof, including the availability of compulsory process to insure [sic] attendance of witnesses; the cost of making the necessary proof; questions as to the enforceability of a judgment if one is obtained; relative advantages and obstacles to a fair trial; difficulties that may arise from congested dockets; the possibility of the existence of questions arising in the area of conflict of laws; the advantage of having a local court determine questions of local law; and[ ] all other considerations of a practical nature that make a trial easy, expeditious and economical.

Id. (quoting Chrysler Credit Corp. v. Country Chrysler, Inc., 928 F.2d 1509, 1516 (10th Cir. 1991)). “The party moving to transfer a case pursuant to § 1404(a) bears the burden of establishing that the existing forum is inconvenient.” Id. (quoting Scheidt v. Klein, 956 F.2d 963, 965 (10th Cir. 1992) (internal quotation marks omitted)). Moreover, “[m]erely shifting the inconvenience from one side to the other, however, obviously is not a permissible justification for a change of venue.” Id. (quoting Scheidt, 956 F.2d at 966) (internal quotation marks omitted).

III. Analysis

The defendants argue that the relevant factors weigh in favor of transferring the case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. After analyzing these factors, the court concludes that transfer is not necessary.

A. Plaintiff’s Choice of Forum

This factor weighs against transfer. Generally, “[u]nless the balance is strongly in favor of the movant[, ] the plaintiff's choice of forum should rarely be disturbed.” Id. (quoting Scheidt, 956 F.2d at 965) (internal quotation marks omitted). However, the plaintiff’s choice of forum may be given less weight when the plaintiff does not reside in the district or when “the facts giving rise to the lawsuit have no material relation or significant connection to the plaintiff's chosen forum.” Id. at 1168 (quoting Cook v. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. Co., 816 F.Supp. 667, 669 (D. Kan. 1993) (internal quotation marks omitted)).

Here, there are good reasons to give deference to Data Locker’s choice of the District of Kansas as the forum. Data Locker is incorporated under the laws of Kansas, is headquartered in Kansas, and all of its business operations are in Kansas. Further, at least some of the acts giving rise to this litigation—infringement on Data Locker’s patent by selling portable secure hard drive products—are alleged to have occurred within the District of Kansas and, thus, have a material relation to the District of Kansas. Compl. ¶¶ ...


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