As I posted last week, the docket reallocation sent a couple hundred of Judge Schneider's pending cases to Judge Gilstrap. Prior to that, however, Judge Schneider ruled on a number of pending motions to transfer in the Geotag litigation.. I have extracted two grants to summarize, and will try to post on an exemplar denial in the next few days.
In a truly magnificent coincidence, the motions below are by Godfather's and Fredo (okay, Fred's).
Judge: Michael Schneider
Holding: Motion to Transfer Venue GRANTED
Nebraska. That's where Geotag's claims against Godfather's Pizza are headed after Judge Schneider granted the motion to transfer. Geotag didn't opose GP's motion to sever as long as the case stayed and was consolidated for pretrial, but did oppose if it would be transferred.
With respect to the private interest factors, Judge Schneider found that Geotag's ties to the Eastern District were not recent or ephemeral, nor was its presence an artifact of prior litigation, nor in anticipation of litigation, and detailed the facts he considered in coming to this determination, but still found that the location evidence favored transfer, since the bulk of the relevant identified evidence is more easily accessed from the District of Nebraska. In addition, he found that the District of Nebraska has absolute subpoena power over all of the identified third-party witnesses, while the Eastern District of Texas does not have absolute subpoena power over any identified non-party witnesses. The Court found that this factor "weighs heavily" in favor of transfer. It also found that the convenience to non-party witnesses factor weighed in favor of transfer.Finally, looking at the "all other practical problems" factor, Judge Schneider found that it was neutral:
This litigation involves over 100 cases against in excess of 400 defendants. Although GeoTag asserts the ‘474 patent in each case, none of the cases involve related defendants or overlapping products or services. GeoTag argues that having a single court familiar with the facts and legal issues would produce significant gains in judicial economy. The Court disagrees.
Although all of the cases involve infringement claims, none of them share the same accused services. GeoTag claims that common issues between defendants provide gains in efficiency. But this argument is unavailing. GeoTag has not pointed to any “common issues” that would not be present in all infringement cases (i.e. claim construction). This is not a situation where other practical problems jeopardize the easy, expeditious, and inexpensive trial of this dispute.
The Court will not permit the existence of separately filed cases to sway its transfer analysis. Otherwise, a plaintiff could manipulate venue by serially filling cases within a single district. Allowing a plaintiff to manufacture venue based on this alone would undermine the principals underpinning transfer law and the recently enacted America Invents Act. See Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, 35 U.S.C. § 299 (2011) (codifying new law for determining proper joinder in patent cases).
With respect to the public interest factors, Judge Schneider found three factors netrual, and one, the local interest, to slightly favor transfer. Taking all the factors together, he found that the defendant had carried its "significant burden" to justify a transfer.
Geotag v. Fred's, 2:10cv478 (1/14/13)
Judge: Michael Schneider
Holding: "You are nothing to me now." Okay, okay, motion to transfer was GRANTED
Godfather homage, aside, the motion to transfer by Fred's did not take the proverbial fishing trip on Lake Tahoe, and was granted as well.