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Bankruptcy Intellectual Property Litigation Trademarks

The Ripple Effect of Rejecting Trademark Licenses

The First Circuit Widens the Controversy

In In re Tempnology, the First Circuit held that the debtor’s rejection of a trademark license strips the nondebtor licensee of any right to continue to use the trademarks. In so doing, the court takes the same approach as the Fourth Circuit and rejects the approaches advocated by the Third and Seventh Circuits.

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In In re Tempnology, LLC, 879 F.3d 389 (1st Cir. 2018), the First Circuit held (in a 2-1 decision) that the debtor’s rejection of a trademark license strips the nondebtor licensee of any right to continue to use the trademarks. In so doing, the court takes the same approach as the Fourth Circuit in its controversial Lubrizol decision and rejects the approaches advocated by Judge Ambro of the Third Circuit in his Exide concurrence and the Seventh Circuit in its Sunbeam decision. Tempnology thus deepens the circuit split between the Fourth and Seventh Circuits over this issue, and highlights the general confusion that still remains 40 years after enactment of the present Bankruptcy Code over the effect of rejection.

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