Inner City sues Inner City over trademarks


Inner City Broadcasting Corporation (ICBC) has filed a complaint related to the Inner City Media Corporation (ICMC) bankruptcy case seeking a declaration that ICBC, not ICMC, owns 13 trademarks. The complaint is primarily targeting Yucaipa Companies and the other lenders, but names ICMC and the related companies in Chapter 11 reorganization as “nominal defendants.”

ICBC is not part of the Chapter 11 case and notes that it is not a signatory to the GE Capital credit agreement, which is the senior debt now held by Yucaipa and others. “In fact, Plaintiff ICBC is nowhere mentioned in the Credit Agreement,” the complaint filed in the US Bankruptcy Court notes.

According to ICBC, the trademark security agreement related to the $250 million loan applies only to the entities which are a “Credit Party” to the credit agreement. It claims the Inner City entities which are credit parties have no right, title or interest in the 13 trademarks, even though they are listed in the trademark security agreement, and wants the court to declare that ICBC alone owns them and that they are not part of the bankruptcy proceeding.

The 13 trademarks include WBLS and WLIB, the call letters of Inner City’s New York stations, the WBLS logo, “Inner City Broadcasting Corporation,” “Inner City” and a number of program names, including “Flava Zone,” “Joy in the Morning” and “Top 9 at 9.” Trademarks for other call letters and several other programs are held by entities which are part of the bankruptcy proceeding.

The trademark security agreement was signed on behalf of each credit party by Pierre “Pepe” Sutton.

RBR-TVBR observation: This is not so unusual in a corporate bankruptcy, especially where there are numerous corporate entities. If ICBC is able to hold onto those 13 trademarks, the eventual new owner of WLIB-AM and WBLS-FM New York would either have to strike a deal to acquire them or do a lot of rebranding.