CABLJ Forum

The Corporate and Business Law Journal Forum is a companion to the Corporate and Business Law Journal. It features short responses to scholarship and comments on legal news.

We welcome submissions from professors, practitioners, judges, legislators, and law students. Submissions should be a minimum of 500 words. Each submission is subject to similar editorial standards as the articles published in the Journal.

From Runway to No Way: COVID-19’s Impact on the Fashion Industry

By: BethEl Nager

COVID-19 has impacted every element of our lives. Grocery shopping, chatting with friends, and going to work have either become a virtual experience or an opportunity to mask up and brave the world. This pandemic has also greatly affected the fashion industry. Despite the athleisure market boom, there are some apparel companies facing economic unrest. Major retailers including J.Crew, Neiman Marcus, JCPenney, and Stein Mart have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In fact, approximately 25 “retailers, big and small, have filed for Chapter 11 protection this year, far exceeding the number for all of last year.” Chapter 11 bankruptcy permits a business organization to devise a plan for the reorganization of its financial situation. Each company creates a strategy that will benefit them and satisfy their creditors. This reorganization plan is approved or denied by the court.

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Illinois Bankruptcy Court Holds Pandemics Can Trigger Force Majeure

By: Josh Bethea

COVID-19 has forced hundreds of businesses into bankruptcy while taking thousands of American lives. But can it excuse failure to perform a contract?
A bankruptcy court in Illinois held yes. Although much about this issue remains unclear, the Court’s decision reinforced the rights of contracted parties whose agreements contain force majeure provisions. This post will briefly explain the law of force majeure and then explore the impact of the Court’s ruling.

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DO BUSINESSES NEED TO BE ESSENTIAL?

By: Grace Michele Duval

During the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing and the close of “non-essential” businesses mark a new normal in American public life. The dictionary defines essential as “absolutely necessary, indispensable.”[1] Essential has yet to become a legal term of art concerning classification of corporate entities but there has been some guidance.

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THE TECH COLD WAR: GEOPOLITICS AMID COVID-19

By Tyler Godbehere

On April 28th, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) announced new rules restricting exports to China, Russia, and Venezuela. These changes to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) remove license exceptions , mandate additional reporting requirements , and provide broad licensing requirements for all “military end users.” Changes to export controls represent a major shift in U.S. policy since President Trump took office.

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HOW A PANDEMIC BLOSSOMS TRADEMARK FILINGS

By: Rezarta Mataj

Since January 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic has consumed conversations in the news, ads, and TV shows, creating common phrases and buzzwords such as “Covid-19,” “Corona Virus,” “Pandemic,” “Social Distancing,” “Patient Zero,” “Self-Isolation” and countless others. Consequently, this has resulted in a wave of pandemic-related trademarks hitting the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). Because distinctiveness is one of the primary features that characterizes a trademark, individuals and companies seeking to use pandemic-related marks are now caught in a race to register their marks with the USPTO.

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EVALUATING PERFORMANCE ESCAPE OPTIONS IN THE WAKE OF COVID-19

By: Benjamin Hill

As of April 2, 2020, the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has sickened over 981,000 people on 6 continents worldwide, and has killed over 50,000. The virus has also had a substantial economic impact, hitting industries such as movie theaters, airlines, and hotels especially hard. In such an economic climate, companies may find themselves hard pressed to fulfill all of their contractual obligations, and wondering whether the virus triggers any contractual clauses that may terminate their duties to perform. Three such potential options are force majeure clauses, the doctrine of impossibility, and the doctrine of frustration.

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PETITIONER AND RESPONDENT REACH AN AGREEMENT IN SCOTUS TAX REFUND CASE

By: Hong Deng

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows an affiliated group of corporations to file a consolidated federal return instead of separate returns. In doing so, the IRS will pay the group’s designated agent a single refund that discharges the government’s liability to all group members. However, federal law says little on how to distribute the money among the group members.

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LIABILITY MACHINES

By: Nick Kandas

This week (February 25, 2020) in Personalized Media Communications LLC v. Google LLC, Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Texas asked the parties to provide briefing on the impact of a federal circuit decision on this case. Personalized Media Communications responded by writing that machines, in this case servers, are agents of Google. Unpacking how Personalized Media arrived at this incredulous claim requires a quick and exciting dip into the world of patent venue.

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FACIAL RECOGNITION: FACEBOOK SETTLES A CLASS ACTION FOR $550 MILLION

By: Ryan Lee
Facebook announced that it has agreed to pay $550 million to settle a class action lawsuit. The class action began over Facebook’s use of facial recognition technology in Illinois on Illinois residents. The case, In re Facebook Biometric Information Privacy Litigation (15-cv-03747-JD) (N.D. Cal.), comes specifically from a photo-labeling service rolled out by Facebook to make it easier to identify the people in your photos and then to tag them. The service, known as Tag Suggestions, uses a face-matching software to suggest the names of people in users’ photos.

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A NEW ERA FOR STUDENT LOANS: DISCHARGE IN BANKRUPTCY

By: Jacqueline Pakula

Rising student loan debt has been a prevalent issue in the lives of many Americans, both young and old. With tuition costs on the rise, the primary concern with student loans is that they seem to be taking longer to pay off and are accompanied by higher interest rates or repayment plans. Many students face hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loan debt as soon as they graduate from a university or college. The problem is widespread, and many students unfortunately find themselves in bankruptcy—unable to pay off their total debts.

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