slightly increases the Plaintiff's inconvenience.
The availability of compulsory process favors transfer. Cento is the plaintiff here, and presumably is willing to produce records under its control proving the infringement and the damage. It has not alleged any witnesses in New York who are unwilling to testify; to the extent there are witnesses in Italy who may be unwilling to testify -- such as the designer of figarope, Caterina Borgoni, whom Cento alleges is not currently an employee -- there is no difference in the availability of compulsory process between New York and California. An action in California, on the other hand, will give a California court process to demand the attendance of California witnesses associated with OroAmerica.
Despite Cento's arguments about the jewelry trade in New York, expert witnesses on jewelry design and the trade are available in both Los Angeles and in New York. This factor does not weigh in favor of transfer, and in any event expert witnesses are not given great weight in the analysis under Section 1404(a). Matra Et Manurhin v. International Armament Co., 628 F. Supp. 1532, 1536 (S.D.N.Y. 1986).
Finally, OroAmerica alleges the relevant documents are all in California. Since this case will focus on whether Milano Rope infringes the Figarope patent, the bulk of relevant evidence will come from OroAmerica's facilities in Burbank. Relevant evidence regarding the patent itself will come from the owner of the patent and from its designer, both Italian. Although it is likely that Cento Group in New York can provide evidence of the success of the infringement, the relevance of such material to the patent or OroAmerica's alleged infringement is minimal. Transfer will facilitate access to the relevant documents and records. Boreal Laser Inc. v. Coherent, Inc., 1992 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 276, 22 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1559 (S.D.N.Y. 1992); Firestone v. Galbreath, 722 F. Supp. 1020, 1030 (S.D.N.Y. 1989).
Trial Efficiency and the Interests of Justice
Beyond these particular concerns, however, a district court has discretion to transfer an action to where the trial would best be expedient and just. Red Bull Assoc. v. Best Western Int'l., Inc., 862 F.2d 963, 967 (2d Cir. 1988). The Plaintiff has not alleged any reason why the courts in California cannot provide as full and fair a trial as the courts of New York.
Nor does either forum's familiarity or unfamiliarity with governing law justify transfer. Cento has made only one claim based on federal patent law, and presumably both courts in New York and California are equally likely to be familiar with federal patent law. The facts underlying the infringement have no material connection to this forum, Firestone, 722 F. Supp. at 1030; Matra, 628 F. Supp. at 1535. The operative events concerning the alleged infringement occurred in California. Boreal Laser Inc. v. Coherent, Inc., 1992 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 276, 22 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1559 (S.D.N.Y. 1992); Gibbs & Hill, 745 F. Supp. at 996.
Cento alleges that the majority of its sales and sizable sales of Milano Rope occur in the New York area. However, where the goods in question are sold in many states (and OroAmerica avers that it sells in every state in the union) the location of sales does not override the other factors favoring transfer. Matra, 628 F. Supp. at 1536.
Finally, it should be noted that another factor for transfer, not at issue in this case, differs this motion to transfer from the one at issue in Christina. In Christina, New York provided the best forum for Christina's unfair competition claim, which arose from the two parties' efforts to sell their competing swimwear lines in certain New York stores. Although Cento has alleged a comparable claim in its Memorandum of Law, it has not alleged comparable incidents, and its general claim of infringement "upon information and belief" does not imply any localized, particular incidents in New York which could count as a factor in this analysis.
In short, the balance of factors for transfer tips in favor of OroAmerica. The convenience of one party will be served while the other will only have to travel to a forum somewhat further but in all other respects comparable to the one it chose. Berkshire Int'l Corp. v. Alba-Waldensian, Inc. 352 F. Supp. 831, 833 (S.D.N.Y. 1972); Matra, 628 F. Supp. at 1535.
OroAmerica has moved for sanctions on the grounds that Cento's description of its New York office as a "place of business" is a material misstatement of fact, and that filing this action in the Southern District of New York amounts to harassment of OroAmerica. Rule 11, F.R.Civ.P., requires a federal court to impose sanctions against an attorney or party who signs a pleading, motion, or other paper, in violation of the rule that the signer certifies:
to the best of the signer's knowledge, information, and belief formed after reasonable inquiry it is well grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law, and that it is not interposed for any purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation.
In determining whether sanctions should be imposed, the Second Circuit has held:
Sanctions shall be imposed against an attorney and/or his client when it appears that a pleading has been interposed for any improper purpose, or where, after reasonable inquiry, a competent attorney could not form a reasonable belief that the pleading is well grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law. . . . Where it is patently clear that a claim has absolutely no change of success under the existing precedents, and where no reasonable argument can be advanced to extend, modify or reverse the law as it stands, Rule 11 has been violated.