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Ord Structure Innovations, LLC v. Oracle Corporation and Oracle America

September 22, 2011

ORD STRUCTURE INNOVATIONS, LLC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ORACLE CORPORATION AND ORACLE AMERICA, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Harry D. Leinenweber

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court is Defendants Oracle Corp.'s and Oracle America, Inc.'s (hereinafter, collectively, "Oracle") Motion to Transfer Venue. For the reasons stated herein, the Motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

ORG Structure Innovations, LLC ("ORG") is a Texas limited liability company with its principal place of business in Woodway, Texas. Both Oracle Corp. and Oracle America are Delaware corporations, with their principal place of business in Redwood Shores, Calif.

ORG filed suit in this district in May 2011 alleging that Oracle infringed three of its business method patents through 20 computer software products. The patents, entitled "Systems and Methods for Rule Inheritance," apparently concern ways to manage roles and hierarchies within an organization.

Defendants responded with their own lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of California, alleging that the instant suit is violation of a licensing agreement between Paul Morinville ("Morinville"), inventor of the patents-in-suit, a Texas company called Internet Business InfoStructure Group, Inc., and Bridgestream, Inc. ("Bridgestream"). Shortly after the licensing agreement was reached, Oracle acquired Bridgestream, located in San Francisco, Calif. Subsequently, Morinville assigned the patents to ORG. Oracle contends that the licensing agreement gave Bridgestream (and its successors) a license to the Morinville patents and contained a covenant barring patent infringement suits over current and future products by Bridgestream and its affiliates. Additionally, Oracle contends that ORG is bound by the licensing agreement, which requires that any breach of contract suit be brought in the Northern District of California.

ORG responded by amending its Complaint in the instant suit to allege that its contentions of infringement do not extend to products covered by the license. ORG contends that after acquiring Bridgestream, Oracle developed additional products using the patented features, or acquired other companies that produced infringing products. Oracle now seeks to transfer the instant suit to the Northern District of California.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Although this is a patent case, motions to transfer venue do not raise issues unique to the Federal Circuit's jurisdiction, so this Court will apply Seventh Circuit precedent in deciding the motion. In re Vistaprint Ltd., 628 F.3d 1342, 1344 (Fed. Cir. 2010). A district court may, even when a suit is filed with proper venue, transfer the suit to another district where it could have been brought if such a transfer is for the convenience of the parties and witnesses and in the interests of justice. 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).

In ruling on such a motion, the court considers the totality of the circumstances. Coffey v. Van Dorn Iron Works, 796 F.2d 217, 219 (7th Cir. 1986). The movant, Oracle, has the burden of establishing that the transferee forum is clearly more convenient. Id. at 219--20. The movant must show: (1) that venue and jurisdiction are proper in both the transferor and transferee courts; (2) that transfer is for the convenience of the parties and the witnesses; and (3) that the transfer is in the interest of justice. Id. at 219. The parties agree that venue and jurisdiction are proper both here and in the Northern District of California, so the first factor is not in dispute. The Court will consider the next two in turn.

A. Convenience of the Parties and the Witness

In evaluating the convenience of the parties and the witnesses, the court considers: (1) the plaintiff's choice of forum; (2) the situs of the material events; (3) the relative ease of access to proof; (4) the convenience of the witnesses; and (5) the convenience of the parties. Amoco Oil Co. v. Mobil Oil Corp., 90 F.Supp.2d 958, 960 (N.D. Ill. 2000).

1. Choice of Forum

The plaintiff's choice of forum is generally given deference, although to a lesser degree when the plaintiff is litigating in a foreign forum. Illumina v. Affymetrix, Inc., 09 C 277, 2009 WL 3062786, at *2 (W.D. Wis. 2009) (citing Piper Aircraft v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 255--56 (1981)). Here, ORG is a Texas limited liability company, and this district has "relatively weak" connection to the facts underlying the claim, so the Court will give only slight deference to ORG's choice of forum. See ...


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