We may not be able to establish or maintain our trademark rights and registrations, which could impair our ability to perform our obligations under our license agreements, which could cause a decline in our licensees’ sales and potentially decrease the amount of royalty payments (over and above the guaranteed minimums) due to us.
While we intend to take reasonable steps to protect our trademark rights, it may not be possible to obtain or maintain legal protection and registrations for all of our trademarks for all forms of goods and services based on certain facts, such as the timing of our or our predecessors’ entrance into the market or the fact that a third party previously adopted a similar mark for use in connection with a similar set of goods or services. As a result, it may be difficult or not possible for our trademarks to be registered or even protected so as to prohibit third party use in a particular manner. Moreover, third parties may challenge or seek to oppose or cancel existing trademark applications or registrations, and we cannot guarantee we will succeed against such challenges. Any failure to secure and maintain rights and registrations could impair our ability to perform our obligations under the license agreements, enter new product or service categories or could affect our ability to enter into new license agreements or renew existing license agreements, both of which could cause a decline in our licensees’ sales and potentially decrease the amount of royalty payments (over and above the guaranteed minimums) due to us.
We are subject to local laws and regulations in the U.S. and abroad.
We are subject to U.S. federal, state and local laws and regulations affecting our business. Our International Joint Ventures are subject to similar regulations in the countries where they operate. While we actively identify and monitor our obligations and the applicability of all laws to ensure that we are compliant and our contractual arrangements with our International Joint Venture partners require them to do the same, our efforts to maintain compliance with local laws and regulations may require us to incur significant expenses, and our failure to comply with such laws may expose us to potential liability. In addition, our ability to operate or compete effectively, as well as our financial results, could be adversely affected by the introduction of new laws, policies or regulations; changes in the interpretation or application of existing laws, policies and regulations; or our failure to obtain required regulatory approvals.
We may be a party to litigation in the normal course of business, which could affect our financial position and liquidity.
From time to time, we may be made a party to litigation in the normal course of business. For example, as the owner of a trademark, we may be named as a defendant in a lawsuit relating to a product designed and manufactured by a licensee of that trademark. In most cases, our licensees under the existing license agreements are obligated to defend and indemnify us, as licensor, and our affiliates with respect to such litigation. In addition, while third parties could assert infringement claims involving our trademarks, we believe our trademarks are not subject to significant litigation risk because they are widely known and well-established trademarks, which have been consistently used by us and the previous owners. We also maintain insurance for certain risks, but it is not possible to obtain insurance to protect against all possible liabilities. Although historically the litigation involving us has not been material to our financial position or our liquidity, any litigation has an element of uncertainty and if any such litigation were to be adversely determined and/or a licensee were to fail to properly indemnify us and/or we did not have appropriate insurance coverage, such litigation could affect our financial position and liquidity.
We have been named in securities litigations, which could be expensive and could divert our management’s attention. There may be additional class action and/or derivative claims.
We have been named as defendants in three securities actions and two common law actions filed in the Southern District of New York (one of which is before the United States Bankruptcy Court), and five shareholder derivative claims have been filed on behalf of the Company, three which were filed in New York State Supreme Court and two of which were filed in the Southern District of New York, each as described in Note 12 to our Audited Consolidated Financial Statements contained in this Annual Report. While we plan to vigorously defend the securities and common law actions and seek to dismiss the derivative claims, we may be unable to defend or settle these claims on favorable terms, and there can be no assurance that additional claims will not be made by other stockholders. The pending and any future securities claims or derivate suits could be costly and could harm our reputation and business. An adverse determination could materially and negatively affect the Company. Our insurance coverage may not be adequate or available for us to avoid or limit our exposure in the pending actions or in future claims and adequate insurance coverage may not be available in sufficient amounts or at a reasonable cost in the future. Additionally, securities and derivative claims may divert our management’s attention from other business concerns, which could seriously harm our business. Finally, the market price of our common stock may be volatile, and in the past companies that have experienced volatility in the market price of their stock have been subject to securities and/or derivative litigation.