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Borders’ intellectual property sold to Barnes & Noble

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge approved terms of the sale

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Martin Glenn approved the sale of Borders Group Inc.’s intellectual property, trademarks and database of 48 million customers’ information to competitor Barnes & Noble Inc.  yesterday.

Barnes & Noble made the purchase at a Sept. 14 auction. Initially, the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection and New York’s attorney general had concerns over  the transfer of customer information from Borders’ database.

The privacy ombudsman for the companies, Michael St. Patrick Baxter, told Bloomberg today that the terms of agreement resolved the FTC and attorney general’s concerns. Judge Glenn approved the terms of agreement, stating they were “fair and reasonable, and provid[e] appropriate protection to privacy interests of many people who have become part of the Borders customer base.” These terms will mark the transfer of some of Borders’ last main assets.

Previous Borders customers will be notified of the transfer of their information to Barnes & Noble by email, Borders’ lawyer Andrew Glenn told Bloomberg. The customers will have an opportunity to restrict their personally identifiable information from being transferred to Barnes & Noble, but all remaining information in the customer database will be transferred automatically. There will also be an advertisement in USA Today to advertise this opt-out, Glenn told Bloomberg.

The Video Privacy Act of 1988, however, restricts the disclosure of personal information by companies that rent audio-visual material—as Borders did— so video titles will not be included in the transfer, a privacy ombudsman told Bloomberg. 

Danielle Feinstein

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