In re: Apple Inc., Appeal No. 2022-162 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 8, 2022)
In our Case of the Week, the Federal Circuit granted Apple’s petition for mandamus, directing the District Court for the Western District of Texas to vacate a scheduling order that would require Apple and counter-party Aire Technology Ltd. to complete fact discovery on the merits, and another six weeks of re-briefing on a motion to transfer venue filed by Apple, before the District Court would consider Apple’s transfer motion. This is but another in a long line of mandamus opinions directed at Judge Albright’s venue transfer practices in the Western District of Texas. For more on that subject, see our additional write-ups here. In siding with Apple, the Federal Circuit agreed that the District Court’s scheduling order would waste the parties’ resources and the court’s resources, and ordered the District Court to postpone fact discovery and other substantive proceedings until it resolved Apple’s motion.
The Federal Circuit recognized that while district courts generally have discretion in managing their own dockets, appellate courts may grant mandamus to correct a clearly arbitrary refusal to act on a longstanding pending transfer motion. Under the District Court’s scheduling order, by the time the District Court considered Apple’s motion, the motion would have been pending for a year, and the parties would have completed fact discovery, served final infringement and invalidity contentions, narrowed the number of asserted claims and prior art references to the Western District of Texas’ particular requirements, and exchanged preliminary trial exhibits and witness lists. The District Court contended that this extra effort would “reduce speculation” and “allow the parties to provide the Court with the best evidence for ruling on the motion.” The Federal Circuit explained that consideration of venue motions should be prioritized, that discovery on Apple’s motion itself would be sufficient for the District Court to consider the motion, and that requiring the extra effort by the parties would lead to unnecessary expenditure of resources by the parties, the transferring court, and the potential transferee court.
The opinion can be found here.
By Tyler Hall
This article summarizes aspects of the law and does not constitute legal advice. For legal advice for your situation, you should contact an attorney.
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