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A & A JEWELLERS LIMITED v. COMMEMORATIVE BRANDS

United States District Court, W.D. New York


March 30, 2004.

A & A JEWELLERS LIMITED and A & A JEWELERS, INC., Plaintiffs, -vs- COMMEMORATIVE BRANDS, INC., Defendant

The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN T. ELFVIN, Senior District Judge

MEMORANDUM and ORDER*fn1

Plaintiffs ("A & A")*fn2 filed a declaratory judgment action on August 28, 2003 seeking declarations that, inter alia, their products do not infringe the patents or trade dress rights of defendant ("CBI") and that certain CBI patents are invalid and unenforceable.*fn3 On November 18 CBI filed a motion to transfer venue to the Western District of Texas pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) (2000 & Supp. 2003). This motion was argued and submitted on February 6, 2004. For the reasons set forth below, CBI's motion will be denied.

Section 1404(a) provides that "[f]or 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."
In addressing a motion to transfer, this Court must answer two questions: (1) whether A&A could have filed this action in the Western District of Texas*fn4 and (2) whether the convenience of the parties and witness and the interests of justice favor transfer.*fn5 When addressing the second prong, district courts consider factors including (1) plaintiffs' choice of forum, (2) the locus of the operative facts, (3) the convenience and relative means of the parties, (4) the convenience of witnesses, (5) the availability of process to compel unwilling witnesses to testify at trial, (6) the location of evidence, (7) the forum's familiarity with the governing law, (8) trial efficiency and (9) the interests of justice.*fn6 No single factor is determinative.*fn7

  The moving party has the burden of justifying a transfer of venue by clear and convincing evidence.*fn8 Moreover, "the presumption against transferring venue is a strong one, and the rule in this Circuit is that plaintiff's choice of forum will not be disturbed unless the movant shows that the balance of convenience and justice weighs heavily in favor of transfer."*fn9 In other words, "unless the balance is strongly in favor of the defendant, the plaintiff's choice of forum should rarely be disturbed."*fn10 This determination lies in the district court's sound discretion.*fn11

  Applying these factors to the present case, this Court finds that CBI has not made a clear and convincing showing that this case should be transferred to the Western District of Texas. First, as noted above, plaintiffs' choice of forum is not to be lightly disturbed, especially where one of the plaintiffs, A&A USA, resides in this district.*fn12 Although A & A USA is a Delaware corporation, CBI has offered no evidence that A & A USA maintains its principal place of business outside this district.*fn13 Second, the loci of operative facts appear to be equally divided.*fn14 Consequently, factors 3 through (and including) 8 set forth above are neutral factors in deciding this motion.*fn15 Finally, although the interests of judicial economy favor transfer to the Western District of Texas,*fn16 such alone cannot satisfy CBI's strong burden in demonstrating that the transferee district is more convenient — especially in light of the presumption favoring plaintiffs' choice of forum.*fn17 Consequently, the fact that the majority of relevant factors are neutral in conjunction with the deference accorded to plaintiffs' choice of forum indicates that CBI has failed to make a clear and convincing showing that this case ought to be transferred to the Western District of Texas.

  Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that defendant's motion to transfer venue is denied.


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