Court Grants Google’s Motion To Transfer Uniloc Patent Case Out of Texas

The Texas Eastern District Court has granted defendant Google’s, Motion to Transfer Venue to the Northern District of California. Plaintiff Uniloc opposed the transfer, asserting that the Eastern District of Texas is the proper venue as both parties “have extensive ties to this District and Texas in general.” Uniloc adds that this venue is “more convenient for non-party witnesses, especially willing witnesses…[and] a denial of transfer could prevent a waste of judicial resources by avoiding the need for the Northern District to restart a series of cases nearing trial.” The court ultimately agreed with Google.

In ruling on the motion to transfer, the court considered both private and public interest factors. 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 trial of a case easy, expeditious and inexpensive.” The public interest factors include: “(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 conflict of laws of the application of foreign law.” The court did not consider the plaintiff’s burden, but instead the plaintiff’s venue choice “contributes to the defendant’s burden of proving that the transferee venue is ‘clearly more convenient’ than the transferor venue.”

The court first examined the cost of attendance for willing witnesses. Google claimed that most non-party witnesses “likely to be called to testify in this case reside or work in or near the Northern District, including many relevant current and former Fortress employees.” Google added that it does not know of any non-party witness that resides or works in the Eastern District of Texas. However, Uniloc states that “‘Google fails to identify any willing nonparty witnesses’ while Uniloc can identify two non-party witnesses who are willing to travel to this District.” Google additionally claimed that Uniloc has “minimal ties to this District, especially as it relates to witnesses.” The court undertook a similar analysis in examining the relative ease of access to evidence for the parties.

The third factor is the availability of compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses. Specifically, “[a] court may compel a non-party witness to attend depositions or trial within 100 miles of where the person resides, is employed, or regularly transacts business in person.” Google claimed that many nonparty witnesses are in the Northern District of California where they are subject to subpoena. Uniloc argued that Google “cherrypicked [witnesses…because they are in the Northern District but no real chance of being called at trial.”

Additionally, the court must look at all other practical problems that make the trial of a case easy, expeditious, and inexpensive. The court found no practical problems for transferring the case to the Northern District.

The court also considered the public desire to have localized matters decided at home. Google statedthat “its activities related to the accused functionality are primarily centered in the Northern District.” Google said Uniloc “does not transact business under Texas law and is not registered as a business in Texas,” adding that neither party has a connection to the Eastern District of Texas that “could not also be drawn to other districts, such as Google making its services and products available nationally.”

The court concluded that “[n]either party seems to truly content that sources of proof cannot be easily accessed from either venue” and that the few documents physically in a district are irrelevant. However, Google “has shown that far more witnesses in this case, both party and non-party, are in the Northern District or close to it.” As a result, the court grants Google’s motion to transfer to the Northern District.

Google is represented by Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer. Uniloc is represented by Etheridge Law Group.