In re Apple (Fed. Cir. 2010)
In a split decision, a Federal Circuit panel has denied Apple's petition for a writ of mandamus that had asked the court to transfer Apple's litigation out of the Eastern District of Texas.
Three weeks before filing suit, the patent holder formed "Personal Audio LLC" in Beaumont, Texas and then assigned the patent rights to the new company and transferred files relating to the patents to that location (which happen to be the office of its litigation counsel). Personal Audio LLC then sued Apple, Sirius XM, and others.
In its decision on mandamus, the Federal Circuit disagreed with the lower court that the Texas court had a particular interest in adjudicating the dispute because Personal Audio was a local company. Rather, the Federal Circuit noted that the "company’s presence in Texas appears to be both recent and ephemeral—its office is apparently the office of its Texas litigation counsel, and it appears not to have any employees in Texas."
Still, the Federal Circuit refused to order a transfer because the defendants could not show that their chosen venue of Massachusetts was clearly better "particularly in light of the fact that none of the defendants is headquartered there."
Change of venue DENIED.
The majority opinion was filed by Judges Mayer and Bryson per curiam. Judge Lourie dissented without opinion.
* * * * *
The company PatentFreedom recently reported that Apple faced more NPE patent lawsuits during 2004-2009 than any other company. [LINK]