Smart Wearable Technologies Inc. v. Tomtom, Inc. (16-cv-00049, W.D. Virginia).

Judge Glen E. Conrad of the Western District of Virginia granted defendant Tomtom’s motion to transfer venue to the District of Massachusetts.  The complaint, for patent infringement, was filed in July 2016, yet Tomtom’s motion was not filed until after the TC Heartland decision holding that venue is restricted to the state of incorporation or a venue in which the defendant both has a regular place of business and has committed acts of infringement.  Tomtom is not incorporated in Virginia and has no regular place of business there.  In response to the motion, Smart Wearable acknowledged that venue in Virginia is not proper under TC Heartland, but argued that Tomtom waived its venue challenge  by failing to raise it earlier.

When faced with a similar situation, Judge Young of the District of Massachusetts denied the motion to transfer, finding that TC Heartland was not a change in the law that allowed for the late filing of a venue motion.  In Virginia, however, Judge Conrad determined that TC Heartland “significantly changed the law of venue” in patent cases , and that, “as a practical matter,” the motion to transfer was not available to Tomtom prior to that decision.  While these decisions are on their face contradictory, it may be the result of differences in controlling circuit law – Judge Conrad specifically cited to a Second Circuit holding that a defense cannot be waived where it was directly contradictory to then-existing circuit precedence.

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