What’s Next for VLSI v. Intel?

Where does Judge Albright go from here, following today’s Federal Circuit mandamus ruling in In re: Intel Corp.? (Mark covered the meat of today’s Federal Circuit order in this post, and covered the District Court’s original transfer ruling exactly one month ago.) 

Spoiler alert: Plaintiff VLSI has already filed an “Emergency Motion to Transfer Back to Waco” that would return the entire case (i.e., not just the trial) from the Austin Division back to the Waco Division. In doing so, VLSI is following the roadmap set forth in the final paragraph of the Federal Circuit’s opinion, which reads in full:

In these circumstances, the district court’s decision to move trial outside of the division on the sole basis of Rule 77(b) and “inherent authority” amounts to a clear abuse of discretion. In granting mandamus, we do not hold that the district court lacks the ability to effectuate holding trial in the Waco Division. We only hold that it must effectuate such result under appropriate statutory authority, such as moving the entire action to the Waco Division after concluding, based on the traditional factors bearing on a § 1404(a) analysis, that “unanticipated post-transfer events frustrated the original purpose for transfer” of the case from Waco to Austin originally. In re Cragar Indus., Inc., 706 F.2d 503, 505 (5th Cir. 1983). Such analysis should take into account the reasons of convenience that caused the earlier transfer to the Austin division. The district court’s order failed to perform this analysis, and we take no position on whether such finding can be made here. 

(Emphases added.)

The Cragar precedent referenced by the Federal Circuit was addressed at length in the parties’ briefing at both the district and appellate court levels. But interestingly, before the District Court it was defendant Intel that relied on Cragar in arguing that transfer from Austin to Waco was unwarranted—and the District Court’s order distinguished Cragar in granting VLSI’s motion. (ECF 352 at 6-8.) VLSI’s pending motion squarely engages with Intel’s allegedly “mistaken reliance” on Cragar, and maintains that the Federal Circuit found that “there is no such prohibition” under Cragar on returning the case from Austin to Waco. (ECF 400 at 8-9.)

VLSI’s motion otherwise walks through a complete analysis of the Fifth Circuit Volkswagen factors governing Section 1404(a) convenience transfers in arguing that Waco is now a more convenient venue than Austin in light of the ongoing pandemic, and “respectfully requests that this motion be heard at the pre-trial hearing already scheduled for December 28, 2020,” and “that the Court set an expedited briefing schedule on this motion.”

All in all, a very interesting wrapup to Judge Albright’s 2020. We’ll continue to monitor the docket to see what’s next from the Court and the parties. 

* * *

Image credit to S K.