Eastern District court denies transfer in Nichia patent infringement case

By Sara McCleary | Nov 30, 2017

HOUSTON – In a decision filed Nov. 15, the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas has denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss or transfer a patent infringement case filed by Nichia Corp.

HOUSTON – In a decision filed Nov. 15, the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas has denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss or transfer a patent infringement case filed by Nichia Corp.

Nichia filed its complaint against TTE Technology (TTE) and TCL Multimedia Technology (TMT) on Aug. 8, 2016, which the defendants answered on Nov. 14, 2016. The plaintiff then filed a second case concerning a different patent on Dec. 27, 2016. On May 15, the court granted the defendants’ motion to consolidate the two cases. The defendants then filed a motion to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction, or alternatively to transfer because of improper venue or for convenience. The court denied all parts of the motion.

According to the opinion, in their answer to the first complaint, the defendants accepted that the court had jurisdiction over TTE regarding the complaint, but did not comment on other matters concerning jurisdiction, writing that “Defendants respond that whether TCL and/or TTE are present within, have minimum contacts with, and regularly conduct business in this jurisdiction are legal questions to which no response is required,” according to Judge Rodney Gilstrap’s written opinion. 

The court found that this improper response to the issue would be struck and ordered the defendants to file a proper answer to the complaint by Nov. 20. It simultaneously denied as moot the motion to dismiss, but left the door open to the defendants to resubmit the motion after filing a proper answer to the complaint.

The court also denied the motion to transfer for improper venue, pointing out that TTE already admitted that Nichia filed its first complaint in the proper venue. 

“They may not now ‘take back’ this admission,” wrote Gilstrap. 

Regarding the second complaint filed by the plaintiffs, which the defendants also sought to transfer, “The court finds that the defendants waived, through their affirmative conduct before the court in moving for consolidation, the defense of improper venue,” according to Gilstrap’s opinion.

The defendants’ third request, to transfer the case based on convenience, was also denied, because, according to the opinion, they failed to show that the case could have been filed in the district to which they sought to transfer it.

As per the court’s invitation, the defendants updated their response and TMT submitted a new motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction on Nov. 27. In its new motion, TMT argues that Nichia’s claims against it fail because the company “is a Cayman Islands corporation with a principal place of business in Hong Kong. It is a holding company that does not make, use, sell, offer for sale, or import any products into the United States. Moreover, TMT does not have any facilities, employees, or operations anywhere in the United States.”

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