United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. Lee United States District Judge
Puroon, Inc. (“Puroon”) has sued Defendant
Midwest Photographic Resource Center, Inc.
(“Midwest”), alleging claims under Illinois law
for unfair business practices and unfair competition, fraud,
breach of contract, unjust enrichment, tortious interference
with prospective business advantage, and misappropriation of
trade secrets. Midwest seeks to transfer venue to the Eastern
District of Missouri under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). For the
reasons stated herein, the Court denies Midwest's motion
is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of
business in Chicago, Illinois. Compl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 1.
The company was incorporated in 2012 by Hyunju Song, who is a
“product designer and developer of home goods and
furnishings.” Id. at ¶ 6. Song also
resides in Chicago, Illinois. See Compl., Ex. A.
2013, Song developed a product for Puroon called the
“Magical Memory Book.” Compl. ¶¶ 7-8.
The Memory Book “combine[s] the functional
aspect[s]” of a photo album, scrapbook, and frame into
a single product. Id. at ¶ 7. “A user may
keep pictures and clippings inside the Memory Book”
while selecting “favorite photographs to display on the
outside” by means of an “interchangeable outside
view made possible through magnetic openings.”
November 2014, Song contacted Midwest to ask whether Midwest
would be interested in manufacturing or prototyping the
Memory Book for Puroon. Id. at ¶ 9; Daniel
Decl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 15-1. Midwest is a Missouri
corporation with its principal place of business in St.
Peters, Missouri. Compl. ¶ 5. It has two co-owners,
Michael Daniel and Cara Daniel, and it has a total of seven
employees. Daniel Decl. ¶¶ 2-3. Midwest sells its
products at its physical location in St. Peters, Missouri,
and it also takes orders online and at tradeshows.
Id. at ¶¶ 7-8.
contact with Midwest in November 2014 consisted of telephone
and e-mail communications with Midwest's Operations
Manager, Tim Gau. Compl. ¶ 9, Ex. 2; Daniel Decl. ¶
9. During these communications, Song sent Gau a Nondisclosure
Agreement in connection with their negotiations over the
Memory Book. Compl. ¶ 10. Gau signed the Nondisclosure
Agreement and returned it to Song on Midwest's behalf.
Id. Around this time, Gau also put Song in touch
with a person named Sae Kim to discuss further details
regarding the manufacture of the Memory Book. Id.
According to Puroon, Gau represented to Song that Kim was a
co-owner of Midwest. Id. After these communications
with Gau in November 2014, Song “spent the next several
months discussing the prototyping of the Memory Book over the
phone and via an online messaging app” with Kim.
Id. at ¶ 11.
March 2015, Song and Kim arranged an in-person meeting in
South Korea. Id. During that meeting, Kim requested
payment of $1, 000 in U.S. currency in exchange for ten
prototypes of the Memory Book. Id. Song sent a wire
payment in compliance with Kim's instructions.
Id. Over the following three months, Song asked Kim
several times about the status of the prototypes, but no
conforming prototypes were made available to her.
Id. at ¶ 12. Instead, Puroon alleges, Kim
“‘accidentally' sent” two prototypes to
“an album supplier along with some of his other product
samples in July 2015.” Id. at ¶ 13. To
date, Song has not received any conforming prototypes from
Kim or Midwest, and her $1, 000 payment has not been
refunded. Id. at ¶ 15.
December 2015, Midwest began retailing a Professional Matted
Display Case (“the Display Box”). Id. at
¶ 16. The interior of the Display Box “holds
numerous photograph mats for storing pictures, ” while
its exterior displays a selected photograph in an
“inter-changeable outside view” featuring
“embedded magnets.” Id. at ¶ 17.
Puroon claims that Midwest created the Display Box by copying
Song's Memory Book without her permission in violation of
the Nondisclosure Agreement that the parties signed in
November 2014. Id. at ¶¶ 16, 19, 36.
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), a district court may transfer a
civil case to another district “[f]or the convenience
of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice.”
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Transfer under § 1404(a) is
appropriate when “(1) venue is proper in both the
transferor and transferee court; (2) transfer is for the
convenience of the parties and witnesses; and (3) transfer is
in the interests of justice.” Coffey v. Van Doren
Iron Works, 796 F.2d 217, 219-20 (7th Cir. 1986). In
ruling on a motion to transfer venue, a court must consider
the burdens that transfer would place on each party and must
engage in a “case-by-case consideration of convenience
and fairness.” Research Automaton, Inc. v.
Schrader-Bridgeport Int'l, Inc., 626 F.3d 973, 977
(7th Cir. 2010).
Convenience of the Parties and Witnesses
has moved to transfer this case to the Eastern District of
Missouri pursuant to § 1404(a). The parties do not
dispute that either the Northern District of Illinois or the
Eastern District of Missouri would be a proper venue for this
lawsuit. Thus, the Court begins by considering the