Monday, August 25, 2014

Where To Litigate "Disposable Living-Grass Pet Toilets?"

Fresh Patch, LLC owns U.S. Patent 8,522,719 directed to a pet toilet continuous delivery and replacement method.  Fresh Patch ("Real Dogs Use REAL Grass") offers a subscription service where they send you a patch of grass each week for your pet to use as a toilet.  DoggieLawn ("Your Dog's Backyard In A Box") offers a competing service.  Fresh Patch sued DoggieLawn and its owner for patent infringement.  DoggieLawn moved to transfer the case from the Middle District of Florida to DoggieLawn's home in the Central District of California.  The Court addressed the typical 1404 factors:

Section 1404 factors include (1) the convenience of the witnesses; (2) the location of relevant documents and the relative ease of access to sources of proof; (3) the convenience of the parties; (4) the locus of operative facts; (5) the availability of process to compel the attendance of unwilling witnesses; (6) the relative means of the parties; (7) a forum's familiarity with the governing law; (8) the weight accorded a plaintiff's choice of forum; and (9) trial efficiency and the interests of justice, based on the totality of the circumstances.
quoting Manuel v. Convergys Corp., 430 F.3d 1132, 1135 n.1 (11th Cir. 2005).   

Concerning witness convenience, both parties identified non-party witnesses.  Plaintiff's non-party witnesses, however, were not in Florida, so keeping the dispute in Florida was of no great benefit.  Defendant identified witnesses from a number of competitors (Pooch Potty, PetaPotty, and Porch Potty), and each of those witnesses were in California.  [Ed. Note: Who knew the subscription pet toilet service industry had so many players?]

The Court next noted that the Defendant was a small startup, while Plaintiff's revenues were in excess of $1m.  The Court also appeared persuaded (to a small degree) by the fact that Plaintiff's law firm also had an office in California.  [Ed. Note: Is this really relevant?]

Generally, a plaintiff's choice of forum will be given deference.  But here, the Court appears to have not believed Plaintiff's claim that the Middle District of Florida was its home forum.  For instance, Plaintiff could not identify any employees or offices in the Middle District and did not quantify any of its business here.

Motion to transfer, granted.
Fresh Patch, LLC v. Youn, Case No. 8:13-CV-2602 (M.D. Fla. July 25, 2014) (J. Merryday)

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