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National Products Inc v. Arkon Resources, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

March 23, 2018

NATIONAL PRODUCTS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
ARKON RESOURCES, INC., Defendant. NATIONAL PRODUCTS, INC.., Plaintiff,
v.
HIGH GEAR SPECIALTIES INC., Defendant. NATIONAL PRODUCTS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
WIRELESS ACCESSORY SOLUTIONS, LLC, d/b/a, IBOLT - WIRELESS ACCESSORY SOLUTIONS, LLC, Defendant. NATIONAL PRODUCTS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
BRACKETRON, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER

          JAMES L. ROBART, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On April 7, 2016, the court consolidated the above-entitled cases for purposes of conducting discovery and claim construction only. (See 4/7/16 Min. Entry (Dkt. # 24); see also Joint Mem. re: Consolidation (Dkt. # 23).) Following the close of discovery, the court will reassign each of the above-entitled cases back to the originally assigned judge for purposes of deciding any dispositive motions and conducting trial, if necessary. (See 4/7/16 Min. Entry.)

         Presently before the court are three Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) motions to dismiss or transfer for improper venue submitted by: (1) Defendant Arkon Resources, Inc. (“Arkon”) (Arkon Mot. (Dkt. # 107)); (2) Defendant High Gear Specialties Inc. (“High Gear”) (High Gear Mot. (Dkt. # 109)); and (3) Defendant Wireless Accessory Solutions, LLC, d/b/a iBolt - Wireless Accessory Solutions, LLC's (“iBolt”) (iBolt Mot. (Dkt. # 111)). All three motions are based on a recent Supreme Court decision, TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, __U.S. __, 137 S.Ct. 1514 (2017), which the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals held in In re Micron Technology, Inc., 875 F.3d 1091, 1098-100 (Fed. Cir. 2017), represents an intervening change in controlling law for venue in patent cases. (See Arkon Mot. at 4, 6-7; High Gear Mot. at 4, 6-7; iBolt Mot. at 6-7.) The court has reviewed the three motions, all submissions filed in support of and in opposition to the motions, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully advised, [1] the court GRANTS the motions. The court, however, declines to dismiss NPI's complaints against Arkon, High Gear, and iBolt (collectively, “Defendants”). Instead, in the interests of justice, the court transfers NPI's complaints against Arkon and High Gear to the appropriate Federal District Courts where venue of NPI's patent claims is proper. Due to a unique issue involving iBolt, the court defers transferring NPI's complaint against iBolt until after it has reviewed the parties' responses to the court's order to show cause, as more fully described herein.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Arkon is a California limited liability company with its principal place of business in Arcadia, California. (1st Bassard Decl. (Dkt. # 108) ¶ 3.) Arkon has no property, infrastructure, inventory, or other physical presence in the Western District of Washington. (Id. ¶ 4.) Arkon also has no employees in the Western District of Washington and provides no localized customer support or targeted marketing efforts here, nor does it otherwise interact in a targeted way with existing or potential customers in the Western District of Washington. (Id. ¶¶ 5-6.) Arkon makes no representations that it has any presence in the Western District of Washington. (Id. ¶ 5.) Any records, documents or information relating to the subject matter of this litigation, which are in Arkon's possession, custody, or control are located at Arkon's headquarters in Arcadia, California. (Id. ¶ 7.)

         iBolt is a limited liability corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Utah. (2d Bassard Decl. (Dkt. # 112) ¶ 3.) iBolt's principal place of business is in Arcadia, California. (Id.) iBolt has no property, infrastructure, inventory, or other physical presence in the Western District of Washington. (Id. ¶ 4.) iBolt also has no employees in the Western District of Washington and provides no localized customer support or targeted marketing efforts here, nor does it otherwise interact in a targeted way with existing or potential customers in the Western District of Washington. (Id. ¶¶ 5-6.) iBolt makes no representations that it has any presence in the Western District of Washington. (Id. ¶ 5.) Any records, documents or information relating to the subject matter of this litigation, which are in iBolt's possession, custody, or control are located at iBolt's headquarters in Arcadia, California. (Id. ¶ 7.)

         High Gear is a Florida corporation with its principal place of business in Orlando, Florida. (Lee Decl. (Dkt. # 110) ¶ 3.) High Gear has no property, infrastructure, inventory, or other physical presence in the Western District of Washington. (Id. ¶ 4.) High Gear also has no employees in the Western District of Washington and provides no localized customer support or targeted marketing efforts here, nor does it otherwise interact in a targeted way with existing or potential customers in the Western District of Washington. (Id. ¶¶ 5-6.) High Gear makes no representations that it has any presence in the Western District of Washington. (Id. ¶ 5.) Any records, documents or information relating to the subject matter of this litigation, which are in High Gear's possession, custody, or control are located at High Gear's headquarters in Orland, Florida. (Id. ¶ 7.)

         On December 17, 2015, NPI filed complaints against Arkon and High Gear in the Western District of Washington alleging patent infringement. (Compl. (Dkt. # 1); 15-1985[2] Compl. (Dkt. # 1).) On December 29, 2015, NPR filed a complaint against iBolt in the Western District of Washington alleging patent and trademark claims, along with a variety of state law claims. (See 15-2024 Compl. (Dkt. # 1).) The court consolidated these three cases, along with National Products, Inc. v. Bracketron, Inc., No. C16-0109JLR, for pretrial discovery and claims construction purposes. (See 4/7/16 Min. Entry; see also Joint Mem. re: Consolidation.)

         On September 19, 2017, the court held a claims construction hearing (see 9/19/17 Min. Entry (Dkt. # 95)) and subsequently issued a claims construction order for the consolidated cases (CC Order (Dkt. # 96)). Discovery in the cases remains open until May 18, 2018. (Revised Sched. Ord. (Dkt. # 126).)

         Following the close of discovery, the court will reassign NPI's complaint against iBolt back to the Honorable Marsha J. Pechman and NPI's complaint against Arkon back to the Honorable Richard A. Jones. These judges will administer the iBolt and Arkon cases, respectively, for the purposes of hearing dispositive motions and conducting the trials.[3] (See 4/7/16 Min. Entry; see also Joint Mem. re: Consolidation.) NPI's complaint against High Gear will remain with the undersigned judge for dispositive motions and trial. (See id.) Neither Judge Pechman nor Judge Jones have had any substantive involvement in the cases that were consolidated. (See generally Dkt. ## C15-1984JLR, C15-1985JLR, C15-2024JLR.)

         On November 30, 2017, Defendants filed their present motions to dismiss or transfer based on improper venue. (See Arkon Mot.; High Gear Mot.; iBolt Mot.) NPI opposes the motions. (See Arkon Resp.; iBolt Resp.; High Gear Resp.) The court now considers these motions.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. ...


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