The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Curtis Joyner, United States District Judge
Saint-Gobain Calmar ("Calmar" or "Plaintiff") is a Delaware corporation
with its principal place of business in City of Industry, California.
Calmar develops, manufactures, and sells fluid dispensing products, such
as trigger sprayers. Defendant is a South Carolina corporation with its
sole place of business in Spartanburg, South Carolina. NPC manufactures
and sells degeasers and other household cleaning products, which are sold
in bottles with trigger sprayer dispensers.
Three separate registered patents related to fluid dispensers are at
issue in this patent infringement action. Plaintiff is the exclusive
licensee with the right to bring suit for Patent No. Re 33,235 for a
liquid dispensing pump. Plaintiff is also the assignee and current owner
of Patent No. 4,747,523 for a manually activated dispensing pump and
Patent No. 4,706,888 for a multipurpose nozzle assembly. Plaintiff
contends that NPC has been violating 35 U.S.C. § 271 by selling
liquid cleaning products with infringing trigger sprayer dispensers.
Calmar brought this patent infringement action in the Eastern District
of Pennsylvania. Defendant now moves to dismiss the case for improper
venue, or in the alternative, to transfer the action to a more convenient
A. Defendant's Motion to Dismss
Defendant argues that Plaintiff's Complaint should be dismissed because
venue is improper in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Fed R. Civ.
P. 12(b)(3); see 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). In a patent infringement
action, venue is proper if it is "brought 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). In actions that involve a corporate defendant,
§ 1391(c) defines residency for the purposes of venue: "For purposes
of venue under this chapter, a defendant that is a corporation shall be
deemed to reside in any judicial district in which it is subject to
personal jurisdiction." 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c). In VE Holding Corp. v.
Johnson Gas Appliance Co., 917 F.2d 1574, 1580 (Fed. Cir. 1990), cert.
denied, 499 U.S. 922 (1991), the Federal Circuit held that Congress
amended § 1391(c) to apply its definition of residency for corporate
defendants to § 1400(b).*fn1 In which case, a corporate defendant
"resides" wherever it is subject to personal jurisdiction. Defendant
NPC, however, contends that § 1400(b) exclusively controls venue in
patent infringement actions. While some circuits have continued to follow
the Supreme Court's holding in Fourco Glass Co., the courts in this
District have followed the reasoning laid out in VE Holding. See VP
Intellectual Props., LLC v. Imtec Corp., No. 99-3136, 1999 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 19700 at *1718 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 8, 1999); Amalia, Inc. v. Conopco,
Inc., No. 94-4182, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 5, 1995).
Thus, venue is proper for a corporate defendant in a patent infringement
action if it is subject to personal jurisdiction in that district.
It is uncontested that Defendant was subject to personal jurisdiction
in Pennsylvania in this case. In addition, this Court finds that
Defendant has sufficient contact with Pennsylvania to warrant specific
personal jurisdiction because NPC sold its allegedly infringing products
to distributors here. See VP Intellectual Props., 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
19700, at *13.
Defendant further contends that applying the holding in VE Holding and
supplementing § 1400(b)'s definition of "resides" with § 1391(c)
would be a violation of its Equal Protection rights. Doing so, NPC
argues, would result in a more liberal venue provision for corporations
in patent infringement cases, denying corporate defendants the equal
protection of law. Although creative, Defendant's argument is
unpersuasive. Defendant does not overcome the burden of showing that
Congress decision to amend § 1391(c) bears no rational basis to a
legitimate governmental purpose. See Central State Univ. v. American
Ass'n of Univ. Professors, Cent. State Univ. Chapter, 526 U.S. 124,
127-28 (1999) (holding that "a classification neither involving
fundamental rights nor proceedings along suspect lines . . . cannot run
afoul of the Equal Protection Clause if there is a rational relationship
between disparity of treatment and some legitimate governmental
Therefore, since personal jurisdiction is established for Defendant and
applying VE Holding to Defendant does not violate the Equal Protection
Clause, this Court finds that venue in this District is proper and the
Motion to Dismiss for improper venue is denied.
B. Defendant's Motion to Transfer
Even though this action can be brought in this District, Defendant, in
the alternative, brings a motion to transfer venue to a more convenient
venue. A court may transfer the venue of any civil action for the
convenience of parties and witnesses or in the interests of justice, to
any other district where it might have been brought.
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The party seeking transfer bears the burden of
proving that transfer is proper and the Court has broad discretion in
deciding whether to transfer an action. Plum Tree, Inc. v. Stockment,
488 F.2d 754, 756 (3d Cir. 1973). In deciding a motion to transfer, the
court must first determine whether the alternative forum is a ...