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Appistry, Inc. v. Amazon.Com, Inc.

United States District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, Eastern Division

March 2, 2015

APPISTRY, INC., Plaintiff,



This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Transfer Venue to the Western District of Washington Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404, [Doc. No. 44]. Plaintiff opposes the motion. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.

Facts and Background[1]

Plaintiff filed this action seeking damages for alleged patent infringement against Defendants under the provisions of Title 35 of the United States Code. The Complaint alleges the following facts:

Plaintiff, founded in 2001 in St. Louis, developed and owns all of the intellectual property rights to an award-winning "fabric" computing technology that is protected at least in part by the Patents asserted in the Complaint. The Technology was allegedly a breakthrough technology in high performance computing. Plaintiff expended substantial investment to develop the Technology. This investment resulted in a successful ongoing business, headquartered in St. Louis, specializing in high performance computing (HPC) technology utilized in areas such as intelligence, defense, life sciences, financial services, and transportation.

In 2004, Plaintiff contacted Defendant Amazon to offer it a license to the Technology. In an effort to engage in such discussions, Plaintiff and Defendant Amazon entered into a non-disclosure agreement drafted by Amazon.

An initial meeting was held at Amazon's Seattle office in approximately August of 2004. At that time, Plaintiff generally explained Plaintiff's capabilities, with a particular emphasis on the transactional reliability of the Technology. Present at the initial in-person meeting were approximately three Appistry employees and approximately four Amazon employees. The Amazon employees were identified as individuals involved in the development and engineering of Amazon's cloud services.

At some point prior to September 14, 2004, Amazon indicated that it was interested in the Technology in connection with Amazon's business plans to offer a strategic business initiative central to Amazon's future.

On or before September 14, 2004, Plaintiff informed Amazon that it had various patent applications pending on the Technology.

Because of Amazon's expressed interest at the initial meeting, a second meeting was held on September 14, 2004 at Amazon's Seattle office. Werner Vogels, Amazon's Director of Systems Research, was present at the second meeting along with approximately 10 to 12 of Amazon's senior technical engineers directly involved in Amazon's cloud services. The September 2004 meeting lasted approximately four hours. During the course of the meeting, Amazon employees asked numerous, highly detailed questions about the functionality of the Technology. Amazon's questions demonstrated Amazon's desire for a detailed understanding and knowledge of the Technology.

Although Plaintiff was initially hesitant to disclose the minute details of the Technology, Mr. Vogels and other Amazon employees stated that Amazon would be skeptical of Plaintiff's technical abilities if Plaintiff did not disclose all of the details. Mr. Vogels and other Amazon employees also stated that Amazon needed all of the details in order to fully evaluate the value of the Technology and to have faith in Plaintiff's engineers to build a quality system.

Following the above statements from Mr. Vogels and other Amazon employees, Plaintiff disclosed very specific algorithms, flow charts, and branches in the decision tree of the Technology. Amazon engineers asked many very specific questions about the Technology, which Plaintiff answered. Plaintiff provided this information believing such disclosures were protected under the non- disclosure agreement with Amazon and under its pending patent applications. The level of detail provided to Amazon was sufficient to copy and build the Technology.

Plaintiff demonstrated proof of concept of the Technology to various Amazon engineers and at least one Amazon development manager on September 15, 2004. This proof of concept demonstration included uploading certain portions of the Technology on Amazon computers to demonstrate the system.

Subsequent to the September 2004 meetings, Plaintiff corresponded with Amazon in an effort to formalize the anticipated partnership with Amazon. Initially, Amazon indicated its engineers were "evaluating" the Technology. Eventually, Plaintiff ...

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