NY Patent Decisions Blog

Plaintiff’s Filing of Action Outside of State of Residence Supports Transfer of Action

On January 14, 2020, District Judge Ronnie Abrams (S.D.N.Y.) granted Defendant LinkedIn Corp.'s ("LinkedIn") motion, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), to transfer to the Northern District of California a patent infringement action brought against it by Plaintiff NetSoc, LLC's ("NetSoc"). Notably, the Court found relevant the fact that NetSoc is based in Texas and thus already chose to litigate in a forum that requires travel and increased expenses as well as the fact that it has not reported transacting business in New York.

NetSoc did not dispute, and the Court agreed, that this action could have been brought in the Northern District of California. Next, the Court proceeded to analyze the factors that courts typically weigh in determining whether a transfer would promote convenience and justice. First, the Court found the convenience of the witnesses factor to weigh heavily in favor of transfer because the inventor and current and former LinkedIn employees most knowledgeable about the allegedly infringing services are all based in California. Second, the Court found the convenience of the parties to weigh in favor of transfer because LinkedIn's headquarters are located in the transferee district, whereas NetSoc is based in Texas (i.e., outside of New York). The Court noted that because NetSoc chose to file the instant lawsuit in a venue outside of the state where it resides, NetSoc plainly is willing to travel. Third, the Court found the locus of operative facts factor to weigh in favor of transfer because LinkedIn's development and marketing activities both occurred in California; the Court was unpersuaded by the fact that LinkedIn provides services to customers in New York, among many other states. Fourth, the Court found the location of relevant documents factor to be neutral in light of currently technology allowing for documents to be portable, and thus, discovery to be electronic. Fifth, regarding the plaintiff's choice of forum factor, the Court found NetSoc's preference for litigation in this district to be outweighed by concerns that favor transfer. Sixth, the Court gave little weight to the transferee district's familiarity with the governing law factor. Seventh, regarding the trial efficiency and the interest of justice factor, the Court acknowledged that consolidating pending cases against multiple defendants can help avoid duplicative discovery and lessen expenses, but explained that since the two remaining actions here involve different patents, this is not an obvious instance where the actions benefit from being tried together.

Case: NetSoc, LLC v. LinkedIn Corp., No. 18-cv-12215, Dkt. No. 73 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 14, 2020).