Eastern District Of New York Transfers Patent Case For Improper Venue
On May 26, 2022, Judge Joan M. Azrack of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York granted defendants’ motion to dismiss or transfer for improper venue on account of plaintiffs’ failure to plead sufficient venue-related allegations, and further denied plaintiffs’ request for venue discovery. UI Technologies, Inc., et al. v. Ricoma International Corp., et al., 2-22-cv-00220 (May. 26, 2022).
Under § 1400(b), venue for patent cases is proper either “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.” 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b). A regular and established place of business under the patent venue statute must be: (1) a physical place in the district; (2) regular and established; and (3) the place of defendant.
Defendants moved to dismiss or transfer the complaint for failure to sufficiently plead that they had a “regular and established” place of business in the district. Plaintiffs argued that the requirements of § 1400(b) were satisfied because defendant “has employees who live and therefore regularly conduct business in” the Eastern District of New York. Plaintiffs offered as support for their position LinkedIn profiles of two purported employees of one defendant, who were alleged to reside in New York. On the other hand, defendants submitted a declaration affirming that they “maintain no offices or locations” in the District, did “not own, maintain, lease, or even rent” any property within the District, and did “not even have any employees” in the District. On this record, Judge Azrack found that plaintiffs alleged nothing to suggest that there is a place of business “of the defendant” in the District, and, in particular, that plaintiffs failed to allege any facts that the employees’ location was attributable to their employer.
Moreover, Judge Azrack denied plaintiffs’ request for venue discovery, noting that venue discovery is improper absent fact-specific allegations or evidence that could support a finding that venue is proper.
Finally, Judge Azrack transferred the case to the Southern District of Florida, where all defendants reside.