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SCOTUS Clarifies What Happens When a Trademark Licensor Files Bankruptcy

Trademark licensors and licensees, as well as their stakeholders (including lenders), should heed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Mission Product Holdings, Inc. v. Tempnology, LLC n/k/a Old Cold, LLC, No. 17-1657.  The Justices resolved a long-standing question arising from the intersection of bankruptcy and trademark law: whether a debtor/licensor’s rejection of a trademark license terminates the licensee’s right to use a trademark after rejection.  In an 8-1 decision, the Justices answered: “no,” rejection simply creates a breach, but not rescission.  If the license or applicable law grant continuing rights to the licensee upon a breach by the licensor, rejection under the Bankruptcy Code does not alter or terminate such continuing rights.

Section 365(a) of the Bankruptcy Code (11 U.S.C. § 365) is the starting point of the analysis (but critically, not the ending point as discussed below).  Section 365(a) permits debtors in bankruptcy to “assume

A step forward – the FirstEnergy Solutions court comes to the commonsense conclusion that steel forges aren’t “forward contract merchants.”

Thomas Paine would be proud of this Court’s commonsense approach to the Bankruptcy Code

 

In the In re FirstEnergy Solutions Corporation bankruptcy cases,[1] the court recently issued an opinion narrowing the number of situations in which a fixed-price supply agreement (used to hedge against rising input costs and constituting a “forward contract” in bankruptcy parlance) will be treated as an exception to the general rules governing “executory contracts”[2] in chapter 11 bankruptcy cases.

The “automatic stay” under section 362 of the Bankruptcy Code usually prevents a contract counterparty from terminating an executory contract without first getting court approval (i.e., relief from the automatic stay); this is true even if the contract provides it may be terminated upon the filing of

Distressed Step-In as a Remedy for UK Lenders

This article first appeared in Corporate Rescue & Insolvency, December 2018.

Key points

  • Step-in is a versatile tool which gives a lender the right, in certain circumstances, to step-in to a contract between a borrower and its contractual counterparty, and to perform the borrower’s part of the bargain to keep the contract alive.
  • It can have much less impact on the actual project or development than the commencement of formal insolvency proceedings, thereby minimising loss.
  • Step-in won’t be right for all situations (or for all lenders) and, where there is distress, additional risk factors need to be brought in to a consideration of the lender’s options.

Introduction

Step-in is a self-help remedy. It is a creature of contract and, in a finance structure, gives lenders the right, in certain circumstances, to step-in to a contract between a borrower and its contractual counterparty, and perform the borrower’s part of

HELOC Notes Found to be Nonnegotiable Under Florida Law

August 6, 2018

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Editors’ Note:  While we love complex restructuring and insolvency proceedings, a plain old suit on a note must be handled correctly as well (that did not happen in the case below).  Jonathon Nicol in BCLP’s Kansas City office handles credit litigation around the country with expertise.  Every aspect of commercial litigation must be studied and mastered – consider this a cautionary tale, and feel free to call Jonathon to take advantage of his mastery of these topics.  

In Third Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass’n of Cleveland v. Koulouvaris, No. 2D17-773, 2018 WL 2271112 (Fla. 2d DCA 2018), Florida’s Second District Court of appeal analyzed, in the context of trial exhibit authentication, whether the note for a home equity line of credit (“HELOC”) was negotiable.

The Second District Court of Appeal considered whether it was proper for the Pasco County, Florida trial court to involuntarily dismiss Third Federal’s claim for foreclosure of a HELOC

Fifth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Bankruptcy Case Due to Lack of Corporate Authority to File (and provides a blueprint for veto powers over bankruptcy filings?)

On June 14, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a revised opinion that held that Federal law does not prevent a bona fide shareholder from exercising its right to vote against a bankruptcy petition just because it is also an unsecured creditor. In re Franchise Servs. of N. Am., Inc., 891 F.3d 198, 203 (5th Cir. 2018), as revised (June 14, 2018).

Franchise Services of North America, Inc. (“FSNA”) was once one of the largest rental car companies in North America. Id. at 203.  In 2012, FSNA desired to purchase Advantage Rent-A-Car and enlisted an investment bank, Macquarie Capital (U.S.A.), Inc. (“Macquarie”), to assist. Macquarie created a fully-owned subsidiary, Boketo, LLC (“Boketo”), to make a $15 million investment in FSNA.

In exchange for the capital infusion, FSNA gave Boketo 100% of its preferred stock in the form of a convertible preferred equity instrument.

Reverse Mortgage Update: New York Law Mandates New Foreclosure Notices and Certificate of Merit

Editors’ Note:  While this post is not a per se bankruptcy issue, matters on consumer financial services are always in the curtilage of bankruptcy and the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.  Our BCLP consumer financial services colleague Cathy Welker is an expert in this area, advising banks, servicers, and other financial institutions on the Byzantine regulatory world they face, not only in New York where she practices but also at the federal level.  Likewise, BCLP’s Dallas office enjoys the benefits of Greg Sachnik, a former senior banking executive deep in the front lines of TILA, RESPA, deceptive trade practices, wrongful foreclosure, and fair debt collection.  We appreciate seeing this update from them, especially as reverse mortgage issues grow exponentially – according to one study, reverse mortgage foreclosures increased by over 600 percent in recent years.  So we are pleased to re-publish it here, and for you to read

State Court Default Judgment Estops Debtor from Contesting Former In-laws’ Action to Deny Discharge in Later Bankruptcy (with bonus practice pointers!)

Just last month, the Bankruptcy Cave reported upon a Southern District of Texas case in which a debtor was denied discharge of a debt owed to an old (and likely former!?!) friend from church who had been required to pay off a student loan made to the debtor which the friend had guaranteed.  Today we report another case involving friends and family and non-dischargeable student debt from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

The case, Ramani v. Romo (In Re Romo), Ad. Pro. No. 17-2107-dob (link for you here), was recently resolved by way of summary judgment for the plaintiffs, the debtor’s former in-laws.  As set forth in the May 14, 2018 opinion of Judge Daniel S. Opperman, the debtor entered her marriage

Equity v. Statute: In Bankruptcy, the Code Prevails (The Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors v. The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis et al.)

Garrison Keillor once said, “Sometimes I look reality straight in the eye and deny it.”[1]  Being that the case arose in Minnesota, perhaps Circuit Judge Michael Melloy channeled Keillor, one of that state’s great humorists, when he authored the opinion in The Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors v. The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis et al. (In re: The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis) Case No. 17-1079 2018 WL 1954482 (8th Cir. April 26, 2018) [a link to the opinion is here].[2]  Regardless, the quote must sum up the Appellant’s view of the outcome. The unsecured creditors that make up the Committee, most of whom were victims of clergy sexual abuse, will not obtain access to the value of over 200 non-profit entities affiliated with the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis to pay their claims.

In a concise opinion, the

From Across the Pond: The BHS Saga Continues – Can a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) Ever Permanently Vary the Terms of a Lease?

Editors’ Note:  The upcoming merger between Berwin Leighton Paisner and Bryan Cave will create a 1500 lawyer, fully integrated firm with best-in-class offices in the US, UK, Europe, Russia, Hong Kong, and the UAE.  The combined Firm, to be known as Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP, will have particular strengths in real estate, financial services, litigation, and corporate practices.  Most importantly for followers of The Bankruptcy Cave, this merger will result in a cadre of restructuring professionals able to handle insolvency matters around the globe, with proven expertise in cross-border workouts, restructurings, and any other insolvency featuring international flavors.  We look forward to speaking with you any time on any insolvency matter that includes any cross-border implications.  

Article summary:

In Wright (and another) (as joint liquidators of SHB Realisations Ltd (formerly BHS Ltd) (in liquidation)) v Prudential Assurance Company Ltd, the court held that, when the BHS CVA terminated, the landlord was entitled to claim the full

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