Greenline and Agri-Process Fight for Home Court Advantage in Biodiesel Processor Dispute

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In a previous post, I wrote about a lawsuit between California biofuel processor design company Greenline Industries (Greenline) and Agri-Process Innovations (API), an Arkansas engineering firm. 

That suit, pending in federal court in Oakland, California, involves copyrighted processor designs as well as accusations of stealing trade secrets, breaching a processor installation agreement and engaging in false advertising.

In June API moved for the California case to be transferred to Arkansas, where it had previously sued Greenline over the same issues.  Shortly thereafter, in the Arkansas suit, Greenline moved for the case to be transferred to California.

In the event that two lawsuits involving the same parties and same issues are filed in different jurisdictions, federal courts apply a first-to-file rule to to determine where the suit will proceed. 

In a recent order (greenlineorder.pdf), Judge Claudia Wilken found that, because API sued in Arkansas before Greenline filed its California complaint, the Arkansas suit has priority for purposes of the first-to-file rule.  However, Judge Wilken denied API’s motion to transfer and deferred to the Arkansas court to decide the appropriate forum for the case on Greenline’s pending motion there.

Given the dueling venue motions (and the cost in attorney time they require), it’s clear that the parties think they have much to gain from fighting their battle on friendly home turf.

Eric Lane Avatar

Eric Lane

Eric Lane, the founder and principal of Green Patent Law, is an intellectual property lawyer and registered U.S. patent attorney in New York and is a member of the bar in New York and California. Eric has more than two decades of experience working with wind, solar PV, CSP, biofuels, and geothermal, energy storage technologies, carbon capture and sequestration, medical devices, data communications, mechanical, chemical, internet and software.