Weird things happen in bankruptcy court. All you high-falutin Chapter 11 jokers out there, cruise down to the bankruptcy motions calendar one day.
Here is the scenario: You are a creditor. You hold clear evidence of a debt that is not disputed by the borrower, an individual. That evidence of debt could be in the form of a note, credit agreement or simply an invoice. You originated the debt, or perhaps instead it was transferred to you — it does not matter for this scenario. At some point the borrower fails to pay on the debt when due. For whatever reason, months or even years pass before you initiate collection efforts.
There is an inherent tension between the goals of bankruptcy law and the state law doctrine of constructive trust. A central tenet of bankruptcy policy is that similarly situated creditors should be treated equally: because an insolvent business or individual will not be able to pay all creditors in full, a proper bankruptcy system must provide as equitable a distribution to each of them as possible. Constructive trust law, on the other hand, works to the advantage of a single creditor – which always means the detriment of the others when everyone is competing for limited funds.
While it has taken five years of committee and court efforts, the “Stern Amendments” to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure will become effective December 1, 2016. These amendments will streamline litigant and court procedures in resolving subject matter jurisdiction matters as between district courts and bankruptcy courts.
On March 9, 2016, Bankruptcy Judge Shelley Chapman of the Southern District of New York issued her decision on the Debtor’s motion to reject certain contracts in Sabine Oil & Gas Corporation’s Chapter 11 case.[i] The decision, which allowed Sabine to reject “gathering agreements”
Over the summer, four appellate court decisions addressed the doctrine of equitable mootness: In re Tribune Media Co., 799 F.3d 272 (3d Cir. 2015); In re One2One Commc’ns, LLC, No. 13-3410, 2015 WL 4430302 (3d Cir.
Who Should Read This? Anyone that deals in distressed debt, and in particular anyone that acquires distressed or defaulted bond debts.
Trademark licensees won a victory on July 9, 2012, when the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued its decision in Sunbeam Products, Inc. v. Chicago American Manufacturing, LLC. The opinion holds that the rights of a trademark licensee do not automatically terminate when its license agreement is rejected by a trademark owner in bankruptcy. Nevertheless, the significance of that victory will only become clarified if and when other courts, including possibly the Supreme Court, and Congress address the issues raised in Sunbeam.
IP Licenses in Bankruptcy
Editors’ Note: The Supreme Court’s Jevic ruling last spring remains a treasure trove of bankruptcy theory, suitable for the novice bankruptcy student and highly instructional for those of us who have practiced in chapter 11 for years. We at The Bankruptcy Cave like it so much that we will be offering a few more posts in upcoming weeks on the lower courts’ interpretation of Jevic since the spring, the continued efforts in Delaware to sidestep Jevic, and other important learning from the case.