To obtain a more convenient location for a court fight, patent infringement defendants sometimes attempt to transfer their case to a forum closer to home. Because all federal district courts possess the same subject matter jurisdiction to hear patent infringement cases, patent infringement defendants rarely assert that one federal court is more substantively equipped to hear the case over another. Still, the question has been raised as to whether certain courts with local patent rules are, in fact, more substantively equipped to adjudicate patent infringement cases.
In One StockDuq Holdings, LLC v. Becton, Dickinson and Company (.pdf), 2013 WL 1136726 (W.D. Tenn. March 18, 2013), the Court recently ruled that its own set of local patent rules was one factor supporting the denial of a case transfer. At issue was the defendant’s request for the Court to transfer the case from the Western District of Tennessee to the District of Utah which does not have its own local patent rules. In its reasoning the Court stated, “[w]hile this Court has no reason to believe that there is any material difference in the expertise or manner of handling patent cases in the Western District of Tennessee and the District of Utah, Plaintiff’s selection of this Court is a rational one. This Court uses Local Patent Rules for the management of patent cases and is the only Patent Pilot Program court located in the same circuit as Plaintiff. A Plaintiff’s rational choice of forum should be entitled to some deference in considering whether to transfer the action to a different district.” (Id. at pp. 20-21) The Court further noted that there is some evidence suggesting that district courts with more patent cases are affirmed at a greater rate by the Federal Circuit than district courts in general. See Adam Shartzer, Patent Litigation 101: Empirical Support for the Patent Pilot Program’s Solution to Increase Judicial Experience in Patent Law, 18 Fed.Cir.B.J. 191, 232-33 (2009).” (Id. at 20)
Key Takeaway: For those patent litigants facing a motion to transfer, the presence or absence of local patent rules may be enough to tip the transfer question in their favor.