The Federal Circuit did not publish any opinions this morning on its website. The court, however, did issue a nonprecedential order on January 21 that went uncovered on the blog. In the order, the court denied a request for a writ of mandamus blocking the transfer of a patent case from Austin to Waco, Texas. Here is text from that order.
In re Intel Corp. (Nonprecedential Order)
Intel Corporation petitions this court for a writ of mandamus directing the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas to vacate its December 31, 2020 order retransferring this case from the Austin Division back to the Waco Division pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Intel also moved to stay the district court’s retransfer order pending this court’s consideration of its petition, and VLSI Technology LLC moves for leave to file a supplemental appendix.
This is the second time this case has been before this court. In both instances, the controversy before us has flowed from the fact that, although the federal courthouse in Austin remains closed for jury trials due to the COVID19 pandemic, the courthouse in Waco has been ordered available for such trials.
On December 23, 2020, we granted Intel’s petition for a writ of mandamus and vacated that order, concluding that neither Rule 77(b) nor inherent authority authorized the court to move just the trial proceedings from one statutory judicial division to another without Intel’s consent. We left open, however, the possibility that the district court could hold trial in the Waco Division by retransfer of the entire action under § 1404(a). Immediately after our decision, VLSI moved to retransfer the entire action from Austin to Waco pursuant to § 1404(a). On December 31, 2020, the court granted that motion. Intel then filed this second petition.
Issuance of a writ of mandamus is a “drastic” remedy, “reserved for really extraordinary causes.” Ex parte Fahey, 332 U.S. 258, 259–60 (1947). A district court generally has considerable discretion in deciding whether to transfer an action under § 1404(a), and we review its decision on mandamus only for a clear abuse of discretion producing a patently erroneous result. See In re TS Tech USA Corp., 551 F.3d 1315, 1319 (Fed. Cir. 2008). That means we will not second guess a district court’s determinations “as long as there is plausible support in the record for that conclusion.” In re Vistaprint Ltd., 628 F.3d 1342, 1347 (Fed. Cir. 2010). Intel has not satisfied that exacting standard here.
Complying with our order, the district court assessed whether “‘unanticipated post-transfer events frustrated the original purpose for transfer’ of the case from Waco to Austin originally.” In re Intel, No. 2021-105, slip op. at 5–6 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 23, 2020) (quoting In re Cragar Indus., Inc., 706 F.2d 503, 505 (5th Cir. 1983)). Taking into account the relevant traditional transfer factors, the district court concluded that it did and that re-transfer to Waco was warranted. While we may have evaluated these factors and the parties’ arguments differently, we are unable to say that the district court’s conclusion amounts to a clear abuse of discretion.
IT IS ORDERED THAT:
(1) The petition is denied.
(2) The motion to stay is denied as moot.
(3) The motion to file a supplemental appendix is granted.