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Kerkman & Dunn
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Milwaukee, WI 53202

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Milwaukee Business & Commercial Law Blog

An overview of telecommunication license transfers

In Wisconsin, like in many other states in the country, telecommunication companies may want to grow businesses by acquiring other firms. The Federal Communications Commission is responsible for transferring these licenses. But, before an acquisition can take place, the commission must approve the merger.

The FCC reviews all applications regarding telecommunication mergers and acquisitions. The FCC extensively reviews all applications and licenses and makes sure that the acquisition is in the public best interest. This is explained in section 310 (d) of the Communications Act. According to the Act, it is the responsibility of the Commission to make sure that the merger would not cause any harm to the public. Localism, competition and diversity need to be promoted. Most acquisition processes are simple and do not take a long time. Interested parties can search for applications in the commission's online filing systems. They may also contact the relevant service bureau.

Store-chain files for bankruptcy, ceases operations

Business owners in Wisconsin should be aware of the two ways to file for bankruptcy relief, if they find themselves saddled with more debt than assets. One proceeding is filed under Chapter 7 rules, where a company sells all assets to pay debt. The other proceeding is Chapter 11 bankruptcy, where a business undergoes restructuring and continues operations.

One recent business filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy is ALCO stores, which began operation with one store more than a century ago. Now, with almost 200 small discount retail outlets in nearly every state, including Wisconsin, the company provides discount pricing to consumers who do not live close enough to shop at larger retail stores.

Fair and unfair business practices

Many businesses in the country, including those in the state of Wisconsin, will do almost anything to gain a competitive edge over others. However, it is important for a business to understand the importance of anti-trust laws so that the integrity of their business is not at risk in a bid to get more customers. If a company fails to follow current antitrust laws, it will risk commercial litigation.

According to the antitrust laws, it is illegal to control all of the businesses in the marketplace, since smaller companies may fall prey to the unfair competition of large companies. Companies who do this may be prosecuted for fraud. Antitrust laws cover an entire ambit, including conspiring to set market prices. If a company conspires with another to fix market prices, it violates the principle of fair practice and may be taken to court over this issue.

Family-owned dairy business in Wisconsin sees decades of success

Throughout economic history, family-owned businesses have survived the test of time. Some of the biggest names in the industry today started as family-owned businesses before going public. Throughout the decades, such businesses have faced a number of trials and tribulations, and the ones that most effectively handled those situations were able to build a strong reputation and brand value. One such example is Faith Milk Haulers, a dairy business in Monroe, Wisconsin.

Faith Milk Haulers -- a family-owned business -- has been operational for more than 50 years. In fact, at one point, the business picked up milk from as many as 100 dairy farms in the vicinity of Monroe. Even today, customers, who include some major Wisconsin cheese makers, are pleased with the dairy business's service. The customers are also pleased with the behavior of the business owners. Nevertheless, the love and admiration that Faith Milk Haulers receives from their patrons has not affected their humility.

Filing for business bankruptcy is a major decision

Wisconsin business owners know they have two main ways to file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. bankruptcy code if they find themselves with more debt than assets. Under Chapter 7, all company assets are sold to pay off debt and all business operations end. A Chapter 11 filing, on the other hand, may be more sensible because it allows a business to continue operations after undergoing financial restructuring.

Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy is one of the most critical decisions business owners can make, so they must clearly understand the consequences of this type of business bankruptcy. Several factors, including the amount of accumulated debt and the interests of the business owner, are evaluated to see if a Chapter 11 restructuring plan is feasible. If restructuring is chosen, the business may later resume operations.

Injunctive relief and damages over trade secrets in Wisconsin

Business owners in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, would agree that trade secrets are often the key to a business's success. Business owners, irrespective of the size of their businesses, make tremendous efforts to protect a trade secret. As discussed in last week's post, Wisconsin is among the 47 states that have adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act and the laws can be found in Wis. Stat. An. Secs. 134.90.

According to the statute, a breach of duty to maintain secrecy, misrepresentation, theft of trade secrets, bribery and espionage are defined as unfair means. Similarly, misappropriation means that nobody, including the state, is allowed to obtain a trade secret through unfair means. Here, unfair means is defined as obtaining the information in a manner that is a breach of the guidelines set by Wisconsin's Uniform Trade Secrets Act.

What does Wisconsin consider a trade secret?

For some businesses here in Wisconsin, protecting a trade secret may be one of the most important priorities. However, unlike other intellectual property such as a registered trademark or patent, where the information or content being protection is publicly known but protected, what separates a trade secret is in its name - the information is proprietary in nature within the company.

The State of Wisconsin has signed into law the uniform trade secrets act, which was developed by the Uniform Law Commission and enacted by the vast majority of states across the country. The act, which can be found at Wis. Stat. An. Secs. 134.90, says to qualify for legal protection, a trade secret must meet two general criteria:

  • The company must make reasonable efforts to keep the information a secret
  • the information must have some level of economic value that comes from the fact that it is a secret and not readily discoverable by others using proper channels

Struggling businesses might benefit from filing for bankruptcy

Milwaukee residents may be interested to hear that Sears has recently announced it will be closing many of its department stores, as well as numerous Sears Auto locations, all over the United States. Reducing the number of store locations may be a sign that a business is not reaping in the profits it once was.

The department store has not indicated whether they will file for bankruptcy, and has said that the reports of store closings were incorrect. However, it appears that after making these statements, Sears added more store closings to their list, putting the number at anywhere from 99 to 131 Sears and Sears Auto stores. Additionally, the list includes a repair center and a distribution center.

Wisconsin businessman facing bankruptcy litigation

A Wisconsin businessman and his adult son were arrested and charged with bankruptcy and bank fraud charges for allegedly hiding assets. The two filed for bankruptcy in 2012, which resulted in the bankruptcy litigation they are now facing.

The two formed a business together where they bought a large amount of Wisconsin foreclosed homes and turned them into rental properties. The father and son saw the success of their business slowly dwindle and their debt increase until they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company's financial woes could be due, in part, to the amount of expensive cars and boats owned by the businessman.

Major Apple supplier files surprising Chapter 11 bankruptcy

GT Advanced Technologies surprised everyone, including Connecticut residents and GT's business partner, tech conglomerate Apple, when they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this month. The company is Apple's supplier for sapphire glass, a hard, scratch-resistant glass that Apple uses for its watch screens. Sapphire glass has proved to be very successful, and Apple signed a $578 million dollar deal last year with GT to produce the glass.

Apple was aware that GT suffered some money issues and agreed to loan the company the $578 million in advance. Apple was paying its loan installments, even if GT had not met its required technical milestones. However, Apple withheld the last payment, citing this failure to meet milestones, and GT filed for bankruptcy shortly after.