In re Quest Diagnostics (Fed. Cir. 2021)
Ravgen sued Quest in W.D. Texas for infringing two patents covering pre-natal genetic tests. As the map shows below, Quest has dozens of “places of business” open within the Western District (Waco and Austin areas) where Quest was selling the services. So, venue was proper under the narrow venue statute for patent cases, Section 1400(b). Likewise, the court has personal jurisdiction over the defendant with Quest’s Texas-based operations allowing for specific jurisdiction under the minimum contacts test of International Shoe. But, even when jurisdiction and venue are proper, they may still be inconvenient.
Here, the Federal Circuit has again ordered Judge Albright to release this case and transfer it to a more convenient venue of the Central District of California. The basic issue is that Quest designed and developed the tests in C.D. Cal., and it uses those same labs to actually conduct the genetic test. Quest’s primary argument for keeping the case in Waco is that there are already three other cases before Judge Albright involving the same two patents (Ravgen vs PerkinsElmer, vs. Natera, and vs. LabCorp).
The parties did not point to any non-party witnesses, but Quest did point to the long travel time from C.D.Cal., to Waco, and the Federal Circuit indicated that the district court should have placed more weight on that factor and also erred by not considering travel convenience in a more wholistic manner.
In his order, Judge Albright had noted that his familiarity with the patents at issue and his push for quick trial weighed heavily in favor of keeping the case in Waco. However, the appellate panel found that Albright should not account for any of his familiarity learned after Quest filed its motion for transfer. In addition, the Federal Circuit restated a prior holding that “it is improper to assess the court congestion factor based on the fact that the Western District of Texas has employed an aggressive scheduling order for setting a trial date.” Quoting Juniper.