Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Las Vegas Tropicana Hotel & Casino Files Nevada State Court Declaratory Relief Action to Keep Using the TROPICANA Name

Las Vegas Sun reporter Steve Green reports (link here) on the brewing internal battle over the TROPICANA name.

It is a complicated story arising from the bankruptcy and reorganization of the company that owned Tropicana casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and throughout the United States and involving the competing interests of two different credit facilities. As part of the reorganization plans, one of the spun off companies received ownership of the “Tropicana” name while a second company, the one that would take over the actual Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas (“TropicanaLV”), would be required to pay an annual license fee of $2 million to keep using the “Tropicana” name for the next five years.

The company that apparently now owns the TROPICANA trademarks and service marks (Tropicana Entertainment Holdings, LLC) recently filed two trademark applications for the design mark THE TROP LAS VEGAS EST. 1957 (pictured below) for casino services and for hotel, bar, and restaurant services.

Tropicana Las Vegas (est. 1957)

TropicanaLV – the “Tropicana” that was established in Las Vegas in 1957 – sees these trademarks filing as a threat in that it believes that the company which received the TROPICANA name in the reorganization is planning to eventually cut off TropicanaLV’s right to use the name TROPICANA. And so TropicanaLV is fighting back with a lawsuit in Clark County District Court seeking a declaratory judgment that TropicanaLV continues to have rights to use the TROPICANA name in connection with its hotel and casino (and indeed never even transferred those rights over).

Of course, because the mess is still in the jurisdiction of the bankruptcy court, Tropicana has filed a motion with the Delaware bankruptcy court to get confirmation that its lawsuit is not subject the stay or to ask that the stay be annulled for such action.

The history of the Tropicana and the details behind the 2008 bankruptcy and reorganization detailed in the complaint make for some great reading (for those of you interested in that sort of thing).

The Las Vegas Review Journal has its own article on the dispute (link here).
Update: Pamela Chestek over at Property, intangible provides her own detailed and insightful analysis of the dispute.

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