papers were time stamped nine minutes earlier than R&H's, it is not even clear that Lonza won the race, as it is unclear whether that minute time differential was the product of Lonza's earlier arrival or the earlier availability in this district of a clerk prepared to stamp the papers.
Third, it must be noted that entertaining this action would not serve the objectives for which the Declaratory Judgment Act was passed. The Act was intended to provide a vehicle by which parties could obtain judicial determinations of unsettled legal positions, not a means of procedural manipulation in search of a forum perceived by a prospective defendant as more favorable. See, e.g., BP Chemicals, Inc., 4 F.3d at 977; Great American Insurance Co., 735 F. Supp. at 586. The Court would disregard this important point were it to accord no weight at all to motive for and the circumstances of Lonza's filing of this action. Moreover, there simply is no reason why the patent issues in dispute should be litigated in two different fora. See EMC Corp., 89 F.3d at 814 (in determining whether to dismiss first filed declaratory judgment action, court may consider whether maintenance of action would serve purposes of Declaratory Judgment Act).*
Taking into account the fact that the Eastern District would be a more convenient forum than this one, the unseemly race to the court house, the fact that the time differential in filing is so small as to leave the issue of which side actually won the race in doubt, and the fact that the underlying purpose of the Declaratory Judgment Act would not be served by entertaining this action, the Court concludes that there are "sound reason[s] that would make it unjust or inefficient to continue [this] action." Genentech, 998 F.2d at 938. This conclusion is reinforced by the denial of Lonza's transfer motion in the Philadelphia action, which means, as a practical matter, that the patent issues will be litigated in Philadelphia irrespective of this Court's decision. Accordingly, the claim for declaratory relief with respect to the '827 patent is dismissed given the pendency of the Eastern District action, which will completely resolve that controversy.
The Unfair Competition Claim
Lonza seeks relief also with respect to R&H's alleged threats of legal action against current and potential Lonza customers for the accused products, claiming that its actions constitute unfair competition. While closely related to the patent issues, this unfair competition claim is not now before the Eastern District.
At oral argument, the parties consented to the Court treating R&H's motions as embracing a motion to transfer this action to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Lonza conceded that this action might have been brought in that district. For the reasons indicated above, a transfer of this action to that district would serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses. It would be in the interest of justice as well. First, the pendency in that Court of the patent infringement litigation to which the remaining claim in this case is so closely related strongly favors transfer. Second, the fact that Lonza is headquartered in New Jersey and has no significant presence in this district, despite the fact that it is incorporated under the laws of New York, reduces (but does not eliminate) the weight that otherwise should be accorded to its choice of this forum. Accordingly, so much of this case as is not otherwise disposed of will be transferred to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
For the foregoing reasons, defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's declaratory judgment claims is granted. The dismissal of so much of the complaint as seeks relief with respect to the '694 and '899 patents is for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, while the dismissal of the claim with respect to the '827 patent is on the basis that the Court declines to entertain the claim for declaratory relief. Defendant's motion to transfer the case to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) is granted.
Dated: January 8, 1997
Lewis A. Kaplan
United States District Judge