Plaintiff’s attempt to litigate in the Rocket Docket because it desired a "quick, efficient and consistent resolution of its claims" was recently thwarted. In an opinion from late January, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Federal Court (commonly referred to as the “Rocket Docket”) transferred venue in a patent infringement case to California because it found the plaintiff patent holding company’s connection to this district was tenuous.
Pursuant to the patent venue statute, patent infringement lawsuits may be brought against a defendant anywhere that the company is subject to personal jurisdiction. The purpose of venue statutes is to provide a logical and efficient forum for the resolution of disputes, but the patent venue statute provides plaintiffs with a great deal flexibility in choosing where to litigate.
The case of Pragmatus AV, LLC v. Facebook, Inc., YouTube LLC, LinkedIn Corporation, and Photobucket.com Inc. involves three patents related to the storage, distribution, and playback of media files. The plaintiff company, Pragmatus, is a patent holding company that was incorporated in Virginia a week after it acquired the patent portfolio at issue. A few days after the last patent was issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Pragmatus filed suit alleging the video uploading and linking technology on the defendant companies’ websites infringed on its patents.
The Alexandria Federal Court considered the convenience of the parties, and the witness convenience and access in determining to transfer venue to California. In analyzing this issue, the Court noted that the inventors of the patents and attorney who prosecuted the applications are located in California; and three of the four defendants are headquartered in California, and the other defendant has offices in Denver and San Francisco. The Court determined that these factors weighed in favor of transferring venue to California.
The Rocket Docket is an attractive forum for business litigation due to its efficiency – continuances are rare; weekly motions; relatively short discovery period; and trials within eight months from filing. However, a party must be able to prove a legitimate connection to the forum in order to maintain suit in this Court. As this case illustrates, patent holding companies raise a particular concern in this regard since their business is most often limited to enforcement of IP rights – not invention or development of the technology at issue.