BorgWarner, Inc. v. Hilite Int’l., Inc., No. 07 C 3339, 2008 WL 3849908 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 14, 2008) (Zagel, J.)

Judge Zagel denied defendant Hilite’s 23 U.S.C. §1404(a) motion to transfer. Plaintiff BorgWarner filed this patent infringement suit over variable camshaft timing (“VCT”) in June 2007. Hilite answered and counterclaimed in March 2008. Five days after answering, Hilite filed a suit in the District of Delaware alleging that BorgWarner infringed Hilite’s VCT patent. Hilite reasoned that its VCT case was related to a prior Delaware patent case filed by BorgWarner on the patent currently at issue in the Northern District, and, therefore, by the transitive property this suit and BorgWarner’s closed Delaware case were related.

While the Seventh Circuit does not strictly follow the first-to-file rule, its use was warranted in this case. BorgWarner’s choice of forum deserved some deference. And the Northern District, while equivalent to Delaware in terms of time to trial, was significantly faster for average disposition without court actions – 6.2 months in the Northern District to 12.5 months in Delaware. Convenience factors were neutral, and therefore weighed in favor of keeping the case in the Northern District.