Monthly Archives: March 2013

Freeborn & Peters’ New Look & New Promise!

Freeborn Tag Logo_high res

On March 28, 2013, Freeborn & Peters LLP launched a new website and announced a new promise to our clients.  At Freeborn:

Your Future Is Our Purpose.

When we say Your Future Is Our Purpose, our goal is to help your business grow and develop to its highest purpose.  To this end, we have more than 200 professionals assisting clients with their legal and business matters across the country and often across international borders.  Through Freeborn’s legal practices, our goal is to provide premium quality legal services that advance the interests, defend the rights and build a better future for our clients – across industries, service lines, and geogpraphy.

We invite you to check us out at: Freeborn & Peters

PACA Trust Litigation Alert

PACA Trust Litigation Alert

PACA Trust Litigation Alert

On March 26, 2013, a civil action was filed in California against So Cal Fresh Choice, Inc. d/b/a Upland Farmers Market to collect about $15,000.00 in alleged PACA trust debt.

Please check your A/R to see if this case affects you.  If it does, please do not wait to protect your rights.

FSMA Update: FDA Issues Produce Safety Rule FAQs

FSMA LogoThis week the FDA launched an updated its Frequently Asked Question & Answer (“FAQs”) section to include detailed areas on the two recently introduced food safety rules, which addressed preventative controls and produce safety.

The updated FAQ section related to the Produce Safety Rule is a fifteen (15) page document that attempts to answer everything from “What does the proposed produce safety rule establish?” to questions about the FDA’s access to company records.  Here is a link to The Produce Safety Rule: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers – Produce Safety Rule

Produce industry stakeholders and related associations should take the time to read and understand the Produce Safety Rule FAQs because it addresses such critical issues as:

  • How does the proposed rule define “agricultural water?”
  • FDA access to company records
  • How does the proposed rule define “farm?”
  • When packing produce is subject to the Produce Safety Rule

As previously noted, the FDA extended the comment period on the Produce Safety Rule until May 16, 2013.  Please exercise your right to let the FDA know if you have any specific or industry related concerns about this rule.  Once the comment period closes, the FDA will respond to comments and finalize the rule.  At that point, the Produce Safety Rule will be binding and enforceable.

New Trademark Clearinghouse Offers Protection for Your Trademarks in Cyberspace

trademark_720If you operate in the food space and offer branded products and/or if your company name is valuable, please  read this entry.  Beginning on March 26, 2013, you will be able to record your trademarks with the Trademark Clearinghouse, which will help protect your marks from being registered as a domain name with a new generic Top-Level Domain.  The new Trademark Clearinghouse will notify owners who record their trademarks with the Trademark Clearinghouse when a domain name under a new gTLD is filed that is identical to the owner’s trademark.

Why record your trademarks with the Trademark Clearinghouse?

If you record your trademark with the Trademark Clearinghouse and someone attempts to register a domain name under any gTLD that is identical to your mark, the Trademark Claims Service of the Trademark Clearinghouse will issue a notice to the potential registrant notifying it of your trademark. If the registrant then proceeds with the registration process, the Trademark Clearinghouse will notify you so that you can take appropriate action.

Another benefit of Trademark Clearinghouse recordation is that those who record their marks will have the benefit of “Sunrise Services.” Sunrise Services allow those who have trademarks registered with the Trademark Clearinghouse to register domains for a specified gTLD that match their trademarks for a period of at least 30 days before the general public.

What trademarks can be recorded with the Trademark Clearinghouse?

If your trademark is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”), you can record it with the Trademark Clearinghouse (the Trademark Clearinghouse will not record marks that are the subject of a pending application). The Trademark Clearinghouse will also record trademarks that have been validated through a court of law or other judicial proceeding; trademarks protected by a statute or treaty; and, other marks that constitute intellectual property may be recorded in the Trademark Clearinghouse by arrangement with a registry.

The Trademark Clearinghouse’s recordation service is only available for trademarks consisting of textual elements, i.e., letters, words, numerals or typographical characters. Marks consisting solely of design elements cannot be recorded with the Trademark Clearinghouse.

For more information about the Trademark Clearinghouse, please see Andy Goldstein’s Article: New Trademark Clearinghouse Offers Protection for Your Trademarks in Cyberspace

PACA Trust Litigation Alert

PACA Trust Litigation Alert

PACA Trust Litigation Alert

On March 20, 2013, a civil action was filed in New Jersey against Morris Avenue USA Corporation t/a Associated Supermarket to collect about $21,400.00 in alleged PACA trust debt.

On March 21, 2013, a civil action was filed in California against Chieftain Harvesting, Inc. to enforce certain rights under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act.

Please check your A/R to see if these cases affect you.  If they do, please do not wait to protect your rights.

PACA Trust Litigation Alert!

 

PACA Trust Litigation Alert

PACA Trust Litigation Alert

On March 13, 2013, a civil action was filed in New York against Dutchie Enterprises LLC d/b/a ADJ Wholesale Produce to collect about $82,000.00 in alleged PACA trust debt.

On March 14, 2013, a civil action was filed in Florida against Quality Fruit Import-Export Corp. to collect about $610,995.00 in alleged PACA trust debt.

Please check your A/R to see if these cases affect you.  If they do, please do not wait to assert your rights.

 

UPDATE: East Coast Brokers & Packers Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy SignOn March 14, 2013, SeaFax reported that:

East Coast Brokers & Packers Inc and six of its affiliates, Circle M Ranch Inc, Ruskin Vegetable Corporation, Oakwood Place Inc, Byrd Foods of Virginia Inc, Eastern Shore Properties Inc and Stellaro Bay Inc, and the companies’ principals, Batista and Evelyn Madonia, all filed petitions for Chapter 11 bankruptcy between March 6 and March 11 with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida.

The debtors filed motions March 12 seeking to have the bankruptcy cases jointly administered under East Coast Brokers & Packers Inc, Case #13-02894.

The debtors have not yet presented their schedules, but estimate they hold assets totaling from $50 million to $100 million and owe between 200 and 999 creditors liabilities ranging from $50 million to $100 million.

Although East Coast Brokers & Packers Inc, Circle M Ranch Inc, Ruskin Vegetable Corporation, Oakwood Place Inc and the Madonias each submitted their top 20 list of unsecured creditors, only one of the debtors names food vendors on the documents and claims total $15,500 or less.

According to court documents, East Coast Brokers & Packers Inc distributes tomatoes and other agricultural products farmed by Circle M Ranch Inc. Additionally, East Coast Brokers & Packers Inc is also responsible for managing the packing and sales operations of the Madonias’ businesses.

The debtors informed the bankruptcy court that Ruskin Vegetable Corporation and Byrd Foods of Virginia Inc own packing houses. In addition, court documents state Eastern Shore Properties Inc owns property used to house farm workers, Stellaro Bay Inc owns property in Virginia and Oakwood Place Inc owns property which previously operated as a hotel known as Red Rose Inn & Suites, but the hotel operations have ceased.

Court documents state the Madonias own more than 20% of the issued and outstanding common stock or membership interests in East Coast Brokers & Packers Inc,  Circle M Ranch Inc, Ruskin Vegetable Corporation, Oakwood Place Inc,  Byrd Foods of Virginia Inc, Eastern Shore Properties Inc and Stellaro Bay Inc.

The debtors said in their motions seeking joint administration that their operations are closely intertwined, other than Oakwood Place Inc.

According to the joint administration motion, each of the debtors is indirectly obligated on significant debts, with MetLife Agriculture Investments owed around $46 million by the Madonias, East Coast Brokers & Packers Inc and Circle M Ranch Inc, while Stellaro Bay Inc guaranteed that debt.

The debtors conveyed to the bankruptcy court that their farming operations have been reduced in scope due to their lack of funds to support farming operations, leading to the Chapter 11 filings.

On March 11, 2013, the Bankruptcy Court issued an order setting the initial status conference to be held on March 28, 2013.  At this conference, the court will: (l) fixing a date by which the Debtor−in−Possession (DIP/Trustee) must assume or reject executory contracts or unexpired leases; (2) to set a date by which the DIP or Trustee, if one has been appointed, is to file a disclosure statement and the plan; (3) to set a date to solicit acceptance of the plan; (4) to set a date for which a party of interest, other than the Debtor, may file a plan; (5) to set a date by which a proponent of a plan, other than the Debtor, shall solicit acceptance of the plan; (6) to set the scope and format of the notice concerning a hearing on the approval of the disclosure statement; (7) and to consider whether or not the approval of the disclosure statement should be combined with the hearing on confirmation of the plan.