No Home Court Advantage For Twitter
Twitter recently got a double dose of bad news from a Virginia based federal court in its efforts to enforce a forum selection clause in a patent dispute. The court found that the clause did not apply to the plaintiff and even if it did, it didn’t cover the claims at issue. A company called VS Technologies brought a patent infringement claim against Twitter. VS had received the patent rights in an assignment from Dinesh Agarwal, the inventor. Agarwal, had a Twitter account. As part of that account, according to Twitter anyway, Agarwal was bound by a forum selection clause buried in the Twitter terms and conditions, that required all claims “arising in connection with [Twitter’s] Services” to be brought in San Francisco County. Twitter filed a motion to transfer the case from Virginia to California. But the Virginia based federal court saw two major problems with Twitter’s motion. First, VS never signed up for Twitter, and indeed, did not even exist when Agarwal “agreed” to the terms and conditions. But maybe more importantly, the court found that the VS patent infringement claim was not the type of “service” dispute covered by the terms anyway. As the court put it:
Twitter’s “Terms of Service (‘Terms’) govern [a Twitter website user’s] access to and use of the services and Twitter’s websites (the ‘Services’), and any information, text, graphics, or other materials uploaded, downloaded or appearing on the Services (collectively referred to as ‘Content’).” Doc. 28-3 (emphases in original). VS Technologies is asserting patent infringement claims. Such claims simply are not based on VS Technologies’ or Agarwal’s “access to and use of” services provided by Twitter’s website. Further, Twitter undercuts its
We’ll see if Twitter takes this question to the Court of Appeals. It seems like a fairly unique set of facts that may not have much application in Twitter’s day to day business. But you never know. Home Court advantage is usually worth fighting for.