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Federal Circuit Kicks Juniper Patent Suits From West Texas

Sept. 24, 2021, 4:42 PM

Juniper Networks Inc. will face several patent suits from a patent licensing business in its home state of California, after the Federal Circuit ordered a Western Texas judge to transfer the cases.

Juniper filed a mandamus petition in July after Judge Alan Albright in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas said Northern California wasn’t a clearly more convenient place to litigate the suits and refused to transfer them.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit granted the petition in a precedential order. It said the case was a “very close cousin” of recent decisions involving Samsung Electronics Co. and Hulu LLC—two cases Albright was ordered to send from his Waco courtroom to California.

“In those cases, as in this one, the center of gravity of the action was clearly in the transferee districts, not the Western District of Texas,” the Federal Circuit wrote. “And as in those cases, several of the most important factors bearing on the transfer decision in this case strongly favor the transferee court, and no factor favors retaining the case in the transferor court.”

‘Striking Imbalance’

WSOU Investments LLC filed several lawsuits against Sunnyvale, California-based Juniper in September 2020. Seeking a transfer, Juniper argued the allegedly infringing products were developed in Northern California, and many of its potential witnesses were there.

The Federal Circuit said Albright didn’t give enough weight to the inconvenience of requiring those witnesses to travel to West Texas to testify, “particularly in light of the striking imbalance in the parties’ respective presentations on this factor.”

Juniper identified 11 potential witnesses in Northern California, compared to one WSOU employee who was in, or near, the Western District of Texas.

The appeals court also said Nothern California had a greater interest in the dispute because that’s where events that gave rise to the suit mainly occurred. And it said the projected fast time to trial in Waco wasn’t significant, among other things.

Noting WSOU doesn’t make products covered by the patents, the court said that even “if the district court’s projection of the likely time to trial in the two venues is accurate, the court did not point to any reason that a more rapid disposition of the case that might be available in Texas is worthy of important weight.”

Juniper is represented by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP. WSOU is represented by Brown Rudnick LLP.

The case is In re: Juniper Networks, Inc., Fed. Cir., No. 21-160, 9/24/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Bultman in New York at mbultman@correspondent.bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Renee Schoof at rschoof@bloombergindustry.com

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