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Extreme Technologies LLC v. Stabil Drill Specialties L.L.C.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

May 31, 2019

EXTREME TECHNOLOGIES, LLC Plaintiff
v.
STABIL DRILL SPECIALTIES, L.L.C. Defendant

          PATRICK HANNA MAG. JUDGE.

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          TERRY A. DOUGHTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss for Improper Venue or, In the Alternative, to Transfer Venue [Doc. No. 17] filed by the defendant, Stabil Drill Specialties, L.L.C. (“Stabil”).

         Extreme Technologies, LLC (“Extreme”) filed a Complaint against Stabil on February 21, 2019, in the United States District Court, Western District of Louisiana, alleging Stabil's Smoothbore™ eccentric reamer infringes on three of Extreme's patents. Extreme had previously filed the same Complaint in the United States District Court, Southern District of Texas, on February 15, 2019. Extreme dismissed the Texas case without prejudice on February 21, 2019, and refiled in this district the same day.

         On March 4, 2019, Stabil filed the pending Motion to Dismiss for Improper Venue or, In the Alternative, to Transfer Venue. Extreme filed an opposition to Stabil's motion on May 20, 2019 [Doc. No. 25]. A Reply [Doc. No. 28] was filed by Stabil on May 29, 2019. This matter is ripe.

         In its Rule 12(b)(3) motion, Stabil argues that Extreme's Complaint is insufficient to support venue in this district, that the allegations are vague, and that they do not identify specific infringing acts by Stabil which occurred in the Western District of Louisiana. Alternatively, Stabil argues that this matter should be transferred to the Southern District of Texas because venue is more convenient there. In its opposition, Extreme maintains that venue is proper in the Western District of Louisiana, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b), as Stabil “resides” in Louisiana as a Louisiana limited liability company.

         Further, Extreme maintains that venue should not be transferred to the Southern District of Texas, as Stabil has not proven that the Southern District of Texas is “clearly more convenient” than the Western District of Louisiana. In re Volkswagen of America, Inc., 545 F.3d 304 (5th Cir. 2008).

         In TC Heartland, LLC v. Craft Foods Group Brands, LLC, 137 S.Ct. 1514 (2017), the Supreme Court held that the sole and exclusive provision controlling venue in patent infringement actions is 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b). Pursuant to § 1400(b), patent infringement suits may be brought in the “judicial district where the defendant resides, or where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business.” In TC Heartland, the Supreme Court concluded that a domestic corporation “resides” only in the state of incorporation.

         The burden to demonstrate proper venue upon a defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of venue rests with the plaintiff. In re ZTE (USA) Inc., 890 F.3d 1008 (Fed. Cir. 2018). The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit take the practical approach of permitting district courts to transfer a case under 28 U.S.C. §1404(a) or §1406(a) without ever deciding whether venue is proper. And, a party's motion to transfer under §1404(a) is not an admission that venue is proper. Bentz v Recile, 778 F.2d 1026 (5th Cir. 1985).

         Stabil maintains that venue is not proper in the Western District of Louisiana in that Extreme has not met either prong of 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b).

         I. VENUE UNDER § 1400(b)

         A. Judicial District Where The Defendant Resides

         In the first prong of § 1400(b), patent infringement suits may be brought in the judicial district where the defendant “resides.” The defendant, Stabil, is a limited liability company that was formed in Louisiana, and which also has a place of business in Louisiana. The courts are not clear where an LLC “resides.” However, this court believes that Extreme's argument is persuasive. Stabil is a Louisiana LLC, formed in the State of Louisiana and does business in the State of Louisiana. Stabil “resides” in Louisiana.

         B. Where The Defendant Has Committed Acts Of Infringement And Has A Regular and ...


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