In re General Motors Co. (Fed. Cir. 2022)
Without much pretense, the Federal Circuit has rejected GM’s petition to the Federal Circuit seeking transfer of its case out of the Western District of Texas. In 2021, Intellectual Ventures (IV) sued GM for infringement of twelve different patents — all focusing on features of GM’s OnStar service. GM wanted the case to moved up to Michigan on convenience grounds, but Judge Albright Refused. In particular, Judge Albright noted that GM has a major IT Innovation Center in WD Tex (Austin) that includes potential witnesses. On mandamus, the Federal Circuit refused to disturb this holding.
In the short opinion, Judge Stark found Judge Albright’s findings reasonable and relevant. In particular, the court noted the following:
GM employees in the Western District of Texas with relevant and material information;
Electronic evidence in Michigan can be accessed by GM from its offices in the Western District;
The Western District (and not Michigan) has the power to compel one of the inventors to testify; and
The Western District has a strong local interest because of GM’s significant presence, including many who devlop/sell the accused products.
Slip. Op. Before transferring a case on convenience grounds, the district court must determine that the proposed district is “clearly more convenient.” This is already quite a high standard that provides substantial discretion to the district court. But, the mandamus standard is even higher and requires an extraordinary situation involving clear error and substantial resulting harm that cannot be resolved later on appeal. Here, the appellate court found that lacking because Judge Albright’s decision provides a plausible basis to conclude that E.D. Michigan was not clearly better.