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Kwik Goal, Ltd. v. Youth Sports Publishing Inc.

May 31, 2006

KWIK GOAL, LTD., PLAINTIFF,
v.
YOUTH SPORTS PUBLISHING INC. D/B/A SOCCERONE AND MARK NEUDORFF, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Harold Baer, Jr., District Judge

OPINION & ORDER

Plaintiff, Kwik Goal, Ltd., filed a complaint against Defendants, Youth Sports Publishing Inc. d/b/a SoccerOne ("SoccerOne") and Mark Neudorff ("Neudorff") (SoccerOne and Neudorff, collectively, "Defendants") that alleged copyright infringement, trade dress infringement, breach of contract, unfair competition, deceptive and dishonest acts and practices, misappropriation and unjust enrichment under state and federal law.*fn1 On March 31, 2006, Defendant Neudorff filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. Defendants then moved on April 26, 2006 to transfer venue, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), from this Court to the Central District of California. I stayed the motion to dismiss pending decision on this transfer application. For the reasons below, the motion to transfer venue is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

These facts are taken from the Complaint, unless stated otherwise. Plaintiff, Kwik Goal, a corporation based in Pennsylvania, designs, manufactures, and sells sports merchandise, including soccer equipment. This merchandise is distributed in connection with a federally registered trademark, KWIK GOAL(r). Defendant SoccerOne, a corporation based in California, is primarily an internet retailer of soccer-related products, which includes plaintiff's KWIK GOAL(r) merchandise. Consumers purchase merchandise from the website, www.soccersupplies.com, and SoccerOne then ships that merchandise to customers located anywhere in the United States, including the Southern District of New York. Defendant Neudorff manages SoccerOne's website.

On or about December 18, 2004, Kwik Goal gave SoccerOne limited permission to use Kwik Goal's catalog and website images in their promotion and sale of Kwik Goal merchandise from December 16, 2004 through December 16, 2005. This arrangement specifically stated that "[a]ll 'Artwork' is copyrighted and is the exclusive property of Kwik Goal." Despite this, Kwik Goal alleges that Defendants copied Kwik Goal's images without authorization to do so, and used those copied images to promote and sell other products of inferior quality, rather than Kwik Goal(r) merchandise.

Plaintiff requests damages and injunctive relief from this Court. On April 26, 2006, defendants filed this motion to transfer venue from the Southern District of New York to the Central District of California.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

District courts have discretion to transfer a civil case to another district if transfer would be in the interest of justice and benefit "the convenience of the parties and witnesses." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a); See also In re Cuyahoga Equip. Corp., 980 F.2d 110, 117 (2d Cir. 1992) ("[M]otions for transfer lie within the broad discretion of the district court."). A two-step inquiry is required. First, courts establish whether the case could have been filed in the transferee district and if so, determine whether the convenience and the interests of justice favor transfer. See, e.g., Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd. v. Lexar Media, Inc., 415 F.Supp.2d 370, 373 (S.D.N.Y. 2006). Courts consider the following in making this determination: 1) plaintiff's choice of forum, 2) location of operative facts, 3) convenience of parties and witnesses, 4) location of documents and ease of access to sources of proof, 5) relative means of the parties, 6) forum's familiarity with the governing law, 7) trial efficiency, and 8) the interests of justice. Id. The plaintiff's choice of forum is generally respected, unless the balance of factors clearly favors transfer. See, e.g., Royal & Sunalliance v. British Airways, 167 F.Supp.2d 573, 576 (S.D.N.Y. 2001) (internal citation omitted). No single factor is determinative. See Citigroup Inc. v. City Holding Co., 97 F.Supp.2d 549, 561 (S.D.N.Y. 2000); See also Red Bull Assocs. v. Best Western Intern, Inc., 862 F.2d 963, 967 (2d Cir. 1988) (stating that district courts have "considerable discretion . to adjudicate motions for transfer according to an 'individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness.'"). The movant bears the burden of demonstrating that transfer is appropriate. See, e.g., Factors Etc., Inc. v. Pro Arts, Inc., 579 F.2d 215, 218 (2d Cir. 1978).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Proper Transferee Forum

As a preliminary matter, the parties do not dispute that this case could have been brought in the Central District of California. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391, venue is proper in "a judicial district where any defendant resides, if all defendants reside in the same State." See also 28 U.S.C. § 1400(a). Defendants are based in California -- SoccerOne is a California corporation and Neudorff, co-founder of SoccerOne, resides in Canoga Park, California. Further, the Central District of California's personal jurisdiction over these parties is not contested since they are both residents of the State.

B. Transfer Factors

Thus, this motion turns on whether convenience and the interests of justice warrant transfer of this case to the Central District of California. For the ...


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