SAN FRANCISCO – A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California recently transferred Green Fitness Equipment Company LLC's (GFE) patent infringement lawsuit against defendants Precor Incorporated and 24 Hour Fitness USA Inc. to the federal district in Washington state.
In a June 29 ruling, U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar granted the defendants' motion to transfer the case to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.
GFE alleges that the defendants violated multiple patent laws and engaged in false advertising. Tigar's ruling doesn't speak to the validity of those claims. Instead, the court determined that the defendants' request for a change of venue was founded on legitimate reasons.
Precor filed a motion to dismiss or transfer the case, arguing that the venue was improper. GFE responded that Precor has an established place of business in California. Multiple organizations in the state take advantage of the Precor name.
The defendants, however, allege that Precor does not have a real presence in California. The facilities carrying Precor's name are independently operated. The company has no control over the California businesses.
Tigar's ruling stated, "This district and others have held that a defendant cannot establish venue through the presence of independent distributor."
GFE argued that the use of the Precor logo on California business locations should be sufficient to establish Precor's presence in the state. The court agreed that it was an important consideration but ultimately decided that it wasn't enough.
GFE also asked the court to defer judgment until it could conduct its own research into the validity of the defendant's claims. However, the court chose not to grant the request. GFE didn't reveal any reason why more time would change anything.
“The district court of a district in which is filed a case laying venue in the wrong division or district shall dismiss, or if it be in the interest of justice, transfer such case to any district or division in which it could have been brought,” Tigar wrote in his ruling.
Precor's established place of business is in Woodinville, Washington. That's why the case has been moved to the Western District of Washington