Federal court venue statutes provide that for the convenience of the 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. The goals of these statutes are to prevent waste of time, energy, and money, and also to protect litigants, witnesses, and the public against unnecessary inconvenience and expense. Ultimately it is within a district court’s sound discretion to transfer venue under these guidelines, but the court must exercise its discretion in light of the particular circumstances of the case. The party seeking transfer must show good cause for the transfer. To show good cause, the moving party must demonstrate the transferee venue is clearly more convenient.
When deciding whether to transfer venue, a district court balances the private interests of the parties and the public interests in the fair and efficient administration of justice. The private interest factors the court considers are: 1) the relative ease of access to sources of proof; 2) the availability of compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses; 3) the cost of attendance for willing witnesses; and 4) all other practical problems that make trial of a case easy, expeditious, and inexpensive. The public interest factors are: 1) the administrative difficulties flowing from court congestion; 2) the local interest in having localized interests decided at home; 3) the familiarity of the forum with the law that will govern the case; and 4) the avoidance of unnecessary problems of conflict laws or in the application of foreign law.
In a patent infringement action, venue is proper in the judicial district where the defendant resides, or where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business. The threshold issue for venue transfer analysis in patent litigation is whether the judicial district to which transfer is sought would have been a district in which the claim could have been filed.
Where a party makes a strong showing in favor of transfer on factors such as the location of sources of proof and the convenience of witnesses, any benefits of judicial economy involving the originating court’s prior experience with an overlapping patent and/or co-pending cases does not in and of itself override that showing to warrant a denial of venue transfer. To hold that any prior suit involving the same patent can override a compelling showing of transfer would be inconsistent with the policies underlying venue transfer statutes where the proper administration of justice may be to transfer to the far more convenient venue even when the trial court has some familiarity with a matter from prior litigation. As discussed in the factors listed above, judicial economy is just one relevant consideration in determining how administration of the court system would best be served in deciding a transfer motion.