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In re Trump Entertainment Resorts
United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware
526 B.R. 116 (2015)
Donald and Ivanka Trump (Trumps) and Trump Entertainment Resorts, Inc. (TER) (debtor) were parties to a trademark license agreement dated July 16, 2010, under which the Trumps granted TER a royalty-free license to use their names, likenesses, and other enumerated marks in connection with the operation of three hotel casinos. The Trumps later assigned their rights and obligations under the agreement to Trump AC Casino Marks, LLC (Trump AC). Subject to a few narrow exceptions, the agreement barred TER from assigning or sublicensing its interest without Trump AC’s prior written consent. The trademark license agreement was terminable by TER on 30 days’ notice. The agreement did not authorize Trump AC to terminate without cause. However, if TER used the marks in a manner inconsistent with certain standards set forth in the agreement, Trump AC was authorized to initiate litigation in the Superior Court of New Jersey that could ultimately result in termination of the agreement. On August 5, 2014, Trump AC initiated such an action in New Jersey state court. On September 9, 2014, TER filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, which automatically stayed the state-court action. Trump AC then filed a motion in the bankruptcy court seeking relief from the automatic stay so that it could proceed with the state-court action. Trump AC argued that the trademark license agreement was not assignable without Trump AC’s consent under applicable nonbankruptcy law and thus was not assumable or assignable under 11 U.S.C. § 365(c)(1). TER objected to Trump AC’s motion.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Gross, J.)
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