Facebook Bid to Transfer Partially Fails

On Monday, the Western District of Texas’ Waco Division granted in part defendants Facebook and Instagram’s motion to transfer. The court denied Facebook’s motion to transfer to the Northern District of California, but granted an alternative motion to transfer the case to the Western District of Texas’ Austin Division.

In January, Voxer accused Facebook of patent infringement pertaining to the social media giant’s Facebook Live and Instagram Live. Facebook moved to transfer

When deciding to grant a motion to transfer, the court noted it considers the “convenience of parties and witnesses” to “transfer any civil action to any other district court or division where it might have been brought or to any district or division to which all parties have consented.” Convenience is determined by a series of private and public factors. The private factors include the ease of access to evidence, process, and costs. Public factors include court congrestion, the desire to resolve localized disputes in a certain locality, and the level of familliairty of the forum court with the law at issue.

Facebook argued that the complaint and patents concern Facebook Live and Instagram Live which “are primarily created and maintained in three other locations and specifically not in WDTX.” Voxer disagreed, stating that Facebook has created a too narrow scope by looking at employees directly working on the products and related documents, arguing that other employees in the area should be able to speak about the product. The court noted that since Facebook will have the majority of relevant documents in the case, the location weighs towards transfer. The court stated that for party witnesses, both venues are equally convenient.

The court found that process was available in both districts, and that both sides’ willingness to travel favored retaining the case in Texas. 

Turning to the public factors, Voxer argued that for patent cases, a trial would occur approximately six months faster in Texas than in the Northern District.

Facebook argues that there is more local interest in the case in the Northern District of California because it is headquartered there and employees knowledgeable of the products are there. Voxer counterargued that this district has a greater local interest, especially with the local Austin office. The court found this factor to weigh against transfer, as Facebook has offices in both districts.

Other factors such as familiarity of the forum with the governing law and the avoidance of unnecessary problems of conflict of laws or in the application of laws were found to be neutral by the court. The court concluded that Facebook did not meet its burden to demonstrate that the Northern District of California “clearly more convenient.” The alternative motion to transfer to Austin was  granted because Facebook has shown that the Austin Division is “clearly more convenient” because of its “offices, employees, and sources of proof that is readily available in Austin, and none of those factors favor the Waco Division.