Incorporation in Delaware is insufficient to create proper venue

Federal Circuit is flexible when it comes to choice of venue

A recent Federal Circuit ruling has created some leeway for companies looking to challenge the choice of venue in patent cases. In its Dec. 2, 2011, ruling in In re Link_A_Media Devices Corp., the Federal Circuit ruled that the mere fact that a defendant is incorporated in a given state doesn’t necessarily mean that that state is the proper venue. While the state of a company’s incorporation is still a significant factor for consideration (see “Motion Denied”), the question of whether it’s a convenient venue, as opposed to an improper venue, is equally as important.

The case centers on a patent dispute between Link_A_Media Devices Corp. (LAMD), a California-based technology company with offices also in Minnesota, the U.K. and Japan, and Marvell Inter- national Ltd., a Bermuda-based holding company. Unhappy with being sued in Delaware due to the inconvenience of the venue, LAMD submitted a motion to transfer the venue to the Northern District of California, where LAMD maintains its principal place of business.

Careful Considerations

On appeal, the Federal Circuit took issue with Judge Robinson’s decision and issued the writ. The court decided that Judge Robinson assigned too much weight to the plaintiff’s choice of forum—particularly when the forum the plaintiff selected was not the plaintiff’s home forum. This point is driven home by the fact that Marvell’s affiliate, Marvell Semiconductor, where the named inventors of the patents-in-suit are employed, is located just three miles from LAMD in Santa Clara, Calif.

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