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ROCKWELL INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION, v. ELTRA CORP.

April 21, 1982

ROCKWELL INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ELTRA CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Rockwell International Corporation ("Rockwell") sues Eltra Corporation ("Eltra") for infringement of two United States patents:

    (1) Patent No. 4,029,947 ("Patent 947"), issued June
  14, 1977 to Rockwell as assignee of co-inventors
  Gregory Evans and Robert Caswell, and
    (2) U.S. Patent Re. 30,679 ("Patent 679"), a July
  14, 1981 reissue of Patent 947 to Rockwell.

Eltra has moved under 28 U.S.C. § 1404 (a) that this action be transferred to the United States District Court for the Central District of California. For the reasons stated in this memorandum opinion and order Eltra's motion is granted.

Facts

Graphic Systems Division ("MGD," from its pre-Rockwell-acquisition corporate name Miehle-Goss-Dexter) is an Illinois based wholly owned subsidiary*fn1 of Rockwell. In the early 1970s MGD decided to enter the "pre-press field," a decision that resulted in the development of the Metro-Set phototypesetter, the device incorporating Patents 947 and 679.

MGD did not have the technical ability to develop Metro-Set. But under Rockwell's Technology Transfer Program ("TTP") one part of the Rockwell organization can avail itself of technological expertise in another part, in much the same way as hiring an outside consultant. MGD originated the idea for development, defined specifications and submitted them to engineers in Rockwell's Autonetics Division for development of an appropriate device. Metro-Set was thus developed by Rockwell engineers located in its California facility. Their work was done for MGD on a "contractual basis," with MGD "paying" for the services and overseeing the work.

When Metro-Set was completed Rockwell obtained Patent 947 and turned the device over to MGD in Chicago. MGD then handled all sales, service and further engineering. After a number of years of successful sales, MGD sold the Metro-Set product line to Information International, Inc. ("Triple-I"), a California corporation. Triple-I became executory owner of the patents, to take effect after this action is completed. All negotiations for the sale, and all executions of sale documents, took place in Chicago.

There are thus four sets of actors involved in this action. Eltra, the alleged infringer, is a New York based corporation with nine regional sales offices, including locations in Illinois and California. Metro-Set was invented for MGD by Rockwell employees in California. Metro-Set was then manufactured and sold by MGD in Illinois. Both patents are being used by California-based Triple-I, their equitable owner.

Section 1404(a) Principles

Section 1404(a) provides:

  For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the
  interest of justice, a district court may transfer any
  civil action to any other district or division where
  it might have been brought.

Rockwell first contends the action originally could not have been brought in California. On that score 28 ...


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