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Global Tel*Link Corporation v. Securus Technologies, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

March 5, 2014

GLOBAL TEL*LINK CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
SECURUS TECHNOLOGIES, INCORPORATED, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JAMES R. SPENCER, District Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on a Motion to Transfer Venue Under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) ("Motion to Transfer") (ECF No. 10) and a Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Memorandum and Evidence ("Motion to Supplement") (ECF No. 36) filed by Defendant Securus Technologies, Incorporated ("Securus"). Plaintiff Global Tel*Link Corporation ("GTL") filed a four-count Complaint on October 21, 2013, alleging infringement of four patents owned by GTL. On November 25, 2013, Securus asserted patent invalidity counterclaims, which seek declaratory judgment finding the four patents in issue invalid, and moved to transfer the case to the Northern District of Texas. For the reasons that follow, the Court will DENY the Motion to Supplement, GRANT the Motion to Transfer, and TRANSFER this action to the Northern District of Texas.

I. BACKGROUND

GTL is a Delaware corporation that provides inmate telephone services, software solutions, and equipment to correctional facilities throughout the country. Its headquarters were formerly in Mobile, Alabama; however, in 2006, members of GTL's senior management relocated to Reston, Virginia. GTL has acquired several other corporations in recent years, including Value-Added Communications, Incorporated ("VAC"), which is now a wholly owned subsidiary of GTL headed by many of the same executive officers that manage GTL from Reston, Virginia.

Securus disputes the fact that GTL's headquarters is actually in Virginia, arguing that GTL is actually based in Mobile, Alabama. The record indicates that GTL has approximately 412 employees working from various offices across the United States, as well as 132 employees who work from home offices. Notably, GTL maintains an office and employees in Plano, Texas, and "[m]ost of GTL's back-office communications infrastructure and its support services remain in Mobile." (Pl.'s Mem. Opp. Mot. Transfer, Ridgeway Decl. ¶ 10.) Additionally, GLT's website indicates that its headquarters are in Mobile, Alabama, a 2010 contract between GTL and the Mississippi Department of Corrections states that GTL's "principle place of business" is in Mobile, Alabama, and in recent patent assignments, GTL's address was noted as being in Mobile, Alabama.

Securus is a Delaware corporation with its principle place of business in Dallas, Texas. It provides call processing, telephone services, digital recording, inmate management systems, and video applications to correctional facilities under multi-year contracts. Securus has its major call-processing and data center in Dallas, Texas, as well as a data center in Atlanta, Georgia. Although Securus sells its products to correctional facilities in this district, it has no call-processing or data center in Virginia.

In this action, GTL has asserted that Securus is infringing four of its patents ("Asserted Patents"). The first two of these Asserted Patents generally claim products and services related to centralized call management: (1) the 732 patent, entitled "Centralized Voice Over IP Recording and Retrieval Method and Apparatus, " which discloses "an apparatus and methodology for recording, at a central data center, telephone conversations originating from remote locations" and which has particular-though not exclusive-utility in the area of correctional services; and (2) the 021 Patent, entitled "Digital Telecommunications Call Management and Monitoring System, " which discloses "a centralized, digital, computer-based telephone management system for authenticating users of a telephone system in an institutional facility" and which includes accounting and management capabilities in both analog and digital environments. GTL's remaining two Asserted Patents generally claim products related to voice recognition and verification: (3) the 243 patent, entitled "Telecommunication Call Management and Monitoring System, " which discloses "a secure telephone call management system... for authenticating users of a telephone system in an institutional facility" and which operates "by using a personal identification number, biometric means, and/or radio frequency means; and (4) the 736 patent, entitled "Telecommunication Call Management and Monitoring System with Voiceprint Verification, " which discloses "a secure telephone call management system... for authenticating users of a telephone system in an institutional facility" and which monitors telephone conversations and terminates the telephone call if a user is not authenticated.

The 732 patent was invented by GTL employee Joseph Clifton Anders, who currently resides in Mobile, Alabama. GTL has owned the 732 patent since its issue in 2009. Stephen Hodge is the inventor of the 021, 243, and 736 patents. He is the founder and former Chief Technology Officer of VAC, and he currently works as a Senior Vice President of GTL. Hodge works approximately one week per month in Virginia, and spends the remainder of his time living and working from his home in Aubrey, Texas, some fifty miles from Dallas, Texas. On October 17, 2013, VAC assigned the three Asserted Patents invented by Hodge to GTL. On October 21, 2013, GTL filed suit against Securus in this Court alleging infringement of the Asserted Patents.

Also on October 21, 2013, GTL filed an answer and counterclaims in an action previously brought by Securus in the Northern District of Texas. In the Texas lawsuit, filed on August 2, 2013, Securus alleged that GTL infringed four patents owned by Securus, including the 167. Securus asserts that the 167 patent is entitled "Centralized Call Processing" and discloses systems and methods that provide a centralized architecture for call processing using voice-over internet protocol ("VoIP"). In GTL's Texas counterclaims, it asserts that Securus is infringing three separate patents it holds. None of the seven patents at issue in the Texas litigation shares a common parent application, prosecution history, or claims with the Asserted Patents. However, a substantial number of the patents involved in the Texas litigation, as well as the Asserted Patents in this litigation, claim VoIP telephone products and services with particular utility in correctional facilities.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404, "[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). "The decision whether to transfer an action under the statute is committed to the sound discretion of the district court." Heinz Kettler GMBH & Co. v. Razor USA, LLC , 750 F.Supp.2d 660, 668 (E.D. Va. 2010) (citing One Beacon Ins. Co. v. JNB Storage Trailer Rental Corp. , 312 F.Supp.2d 824, 828 (E.D. Va. 2004)). District courts determining whether to grant a motion to transfer under § 1404(a) to a transferee forum where the action could initially have been brought "typically consider[]: (1) plaintiff's choice of forum, (2) convenience of the parties, (3) witness convenience and access, and (4) the interest of justice." Id. (citing JTH Tax, Inc. v. Lee , 482 F.Supp.2d 731, 736 (E.D. Va. 2007)). "The movant bears the burden of showing that transfer is proper." JTH Tax , 482 F.Supp. 3d at 736 (citing Cognitronics Imaging Sys. v. Recognition Research, Inc. , 83 F.Supp.2d 689, 696 (E.D. Va. 2000)).

III. DISCUSSION

A. TRANSFEREE FORUM AS INITIAL FORUM

"Any civil action for patent infringement may be brought in the judicial district where the defendant resides, or where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business." 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b). "[A] corporation shall be deemed to reside in any judicial district in which it is subject to personal jurisdiction at the time the action is commenced." 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c). In this case, the parties agree that Securus was, and continues to be, subject to personal jurisdiction in the Northern District of Texas. Additionally, GTL concedes that it is also subject to personal jurisdiction in the Northern District of Texas. As such, this action could originally have been ...


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