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LASE COMPANY v. WEIN PRODUCTS

September 5, 1973

THE LASE COMPANY, A CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WEIN PRODUCTS, INC., AND STANLEY WEINBERG, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bauer, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This cause comes on the defendants' motion for change of venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).

This action is based on diversity of citizenship for trade libel, slander of title, deceptive trade practices and unfair competition and trade practice combined with an action for false marking and representation under 35 U.S.C. § 292 and 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a) respectively.

The plaintiff, the Lase Co., is incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois and has its principal place of business in that state. Defendant Wein Products, Inc. is incorporated under the laws of the State of California and has its principal place of business in that state. Defendant Stanley Weinberg is a resident and citizen of the State of California. The amount in controversy is alleged to exceed $10,000 exclusive of interest and costs.

The plaintiff's complaint sets forth six causes of action in six separate counts.

Count I alleges a cause of action against the defendants for the tort of trade libel and title slander. Count II alleges, in the alternative to Count I, a cause of action against the defendants for unfair competition and unfair trade practices. Count III alleges a cause of action against defendant Stanley Weinberg for trade libel and title slander. Count IV alleges a cause of action against defendants under the Patent Laws of the United States, 35 U.S.C. § 292. Count V alleges a cause of action against the defendants for deceptive trade practices. Count VI alleges a cause of action against the defendants for false descriptions and representations in the sale of their product in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a).

The plaintiff in the complaint alleges the following facts, inter alia, which are relevant to the proper disposition of the instant motion. (1) The plaintiff is engaged in the making and selling of certain photographic equipment including a certain photographic slave trigger device, sold by plaintiff under the trademark of "Lase" and on which plaintiff owned all rights, title and interest pursuant to a patent application filed November 14, 1967, which issued as U.S. Patent No. 3,487,221 on December 30, 1969. (2) The defendant Wein Products, Inc., is engaged in the manufacture and sale of photographic equipment, including electronic slave trigger devices, in direct competition with plaintiff. Defendants' electronic slave trigger devices are sold under the trademark "Micro-Slave". (3) On or about June 26, 1969, while acting within the scope of his employment as President of Wein Products, Inc., Stanley Weinberg did knowingly and maliciously cause a letter to be sent to each of plaintiff's distributors concerning plaintiff's title to and right to manufacture and sell Lase electronic slave trigger devices. The letter contained the following language:

Directive to Distributors

  We have been informed that LASE is using circuitry that
  infringes on our patents for the Micro-Slave. We strongly urge
  all of our distributors to refrain from handling this item as
  we are filing an infringement suit with the United States
  Patent Office.

Stan Weinberg,

President

(4) Such letters were received and read by the plaintiff's distributors and the statement thus advertised and published was untrue, false and disparaging of plaintiff's title to and right to manufacture and sell the aforementioned "Lase" electronic slave trigger devices. During the relevant period of time defendants owned no patent application or patent relating to the Micro-Slave device or to any other electronic slave trigger devices. The defendant Stanley Weinberg at the time of mailing the letter in the State of California knew the facts contained therein to be false and untrue and had no reason to suspect the statements in question to be true.

The defendants in support of their motion for a change of venue contend:

  1. Discovery thus far demonstrates that California is the
     primary situs of the actual controversy between the parties,
     the dispositive ...

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