United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
GRAHAM C. MULLEN, District Judge.
THIS MATTER is before the Court upon Defendant's Motion to Transfer Venue (Doc. No. 19), Plaintiff's Response in Opposition (Doc. No. 22), and Defendant's Reply (Doc. No. 24). Defendant requests that this case be transferred to the Northern District of California. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is GRANTED.
Plaintiff PlayVision Labs, Inc. ("PlayVision") brought this action on June 13, 2014, asserting claims against Defendant Nintendo of America, Inc. ("Nintendo") for trademark infringement, unfair and deceptive trade practices, unfair competition, and false advertising (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff's claims center around allegations that Defendant markets and sells a product that is confusingly to a trademark owned by Plaintiff. Plaintiff does not dispute that it is based in the Northern District of California, and that Defendant is based in the State of Washington, but asserts that jurisdiction and venue are proper here "by virtue of the fact that the Defendant conducts business in this State and District..., and Defendant has sold and is selling Wii Play: Motion' in North Carolina." (Doc. No. 1 at 2).
II. LEGAL STANDARD
United States Code Title 28 Section 1404(a) provides, in part: "For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought...." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a); see also Atl. Marine Constr. Co., Inc. v. U.S. Dist. Court, 134 S.Ct. 568, 581 (2013). Congress designed Section 1404(a) as a "federal judicial housekeeping measure" to "prevent the waste of time, energy, and money and to protect litigants, witnesses and the public against unnecessary inconvenience and expense." Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 616, 636 (1964). In a motion brought pursuant to Section 1404(a), the moving party must establish (1) that the plaintiff could have brought the case in the transferee district and (2) that transfer would make the litigation more convenient for the parties and for the witnesses, and would advance justice. See Ward v. INVISTA S.a.r.L., LLC, 5:06-cv-40, 385 B.R. 817, 821 (W.D. N.C. 2008).
As an initial matter, the Court notes that this lawsuit could have been brought in the Northern District of California originally. Subject matter jurisdiction exists in that district because PlayVision asserts its claims under federal trademark law, over which all federal courts have subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Both parties are subject to personal jurisdiction in the Northern District of California because they each have offices there. (Doc. No. 20-13 at 2). Finally, because Defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction in the California district, it is deemed to reside in that district. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c).
As to the parties' convenience and the interests of justice, the Western District of North Carolina has consistently applied an eleven-factor test. Those factors are:
(1) the Plaintiff's choice of forum; (2) the residence of the parties; (3) the relative ease of access of proof; (4) the availability of compulsory process for the attendance of witnesses and the costs of obtaining attendance of willing witnesses; (5) the possibility of a view; (6) the enforceability of any judgment obtained; (7) the relative advantages and obstacles to a fair trial; (8) other problems which might make the litigation more expeditious and economical; (9) the administrative difficulties of court congestion; (10) the interest in having localized controversies resolved at home and the appropriateness in having litigation of a diversity case in a forum that is at home with the state law that must govern the action; and (11) the avoidance of issues involving conflict of laws.
Am. Motorists Ins. Co. v. CTS Corp., 356 F.Supp.2d 583, 585 (2005). The parties agree that the fifth factor is irrelevant because there are no premises to view in this action. They also agree that the tenth and eleventh factors have no bearing because this action is premised on federal trademark law. Thus, the Court will proceed to discuss the remaining factors.
A. Residence of the Parties, Access to Proof, and Other Factors Favoring Transfer
Defendant argues, and the Court agrees, that nearly all of the pertinent factors favor transfer. To begin with, neither of the parties appears to have any relevant ties to the State of North Carolina. The Complaint notes that Nintendo sells the "Wii Play: Motion" product in North Carolina, but the Court suspects that Nintendo sells this product in every other state as well. Neither party maintains any offices or employees in North Carolina. Defendant acknowledges that it maintains a registered office in Raleigh, but this office only functions to receive official mail and Defendant does not employ anyone there. (Doc. No. 20-13 at 2). Notably, nothing to do with the development or manufacture of the Wii Play: Motion game occurred in North Carolina. ( Id. )
The parties do, however, have significant ties to the Northern District of California. Plaintiff appears to have its principal place of business in Mountain View, California. ( See Doc. No. 1 at 1). Although Defendant's principal place of business is in Redmond, Washington, it asserts that the documents and employees that would be most relevant to this dispute are located at its office in Redwood City, California. This office, which is Nintendo's largest marketing and sales office, is located within the California district. (Doc. No. 20-13 at 2). Nintendo employs 70 people there, including Nicholas Chavez, who is Defendant's Senior Director of Consumer Marketing. ( Id. ) Mr. Chavez "has knowledge of the marketing and sales efforts [Nintendo] undertakes in the United States to sell its products, including the Wii Play: Motion game, " and will almost certainly be a witness in this case. ( Id. ) To the extent Nintendo's Redwood City office does not house all the documents or employees that would be relevant to this dispute, Nintendo asserts that its office in ...