Jonathan B. Wilson

Legal Resources
Business Law Updates
Out of Balance
Legislation for Renewable Energy

Jonathan Wilson is an Atlanta attorney with more than 19 years of experience guiding growing private and public companies.  He currently serves as the outside general counsel of several companies and is the former general counsel of (NASDAQ: WWWW) and EasyLink Services (NASDAQ: ESIC).  He is also the founding chair of the Renewable Energy Committee of the American Bar Association's Public Utility Section.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Alternative Fuel Extension Bills Still Not Resolved
Both the Senate and the House have passed bills that would extend for one year the $1-per-gallon tax credit for alternative biofuels and biodiesel but the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Representative Sander Levin (D-MI), said recently that it may be Memorial Day before differences in the two bills are resolved and the legislation becomes law.

Many alternative fuel and biodiesel curtailed operations or shut down completely at the end of 2009 when their excise tax programs expired. If the 2010 extension doesn't become law until the year's mid-point it will have only limited value to the industry.


8:15 am edt 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

State Incentives for Renewable Energy

Please join me for a webinar sponsored by the American Bar Association from 12 noon to 1:30 pm eastern.  I'll be moderating the panel that will highlight some of the topics covered in the Spring 2010 Report of the Renewable Energy Committee of the ABA's Public Utility Section.

We will address state efforts to create renewable portfolio standards (RPS), feed-in-tarriffs, and other incentives, including income tax credits, loan programs and grant programs.

Program faculty includes:

  *  Michael C. Barnas, Senior Counsel, Renewables, GE Power & Water, Schenectady, NY

  *  Daniel J. Boyle, Managing Director, Heuristic Strategies LLC, Roseville, CA

  *  Katherine L. Konieczny, Clerk, DC Court of Appeals, Washington, DC

  *  Lisa Novins, Law Clerk, State of Vermont Judiciary, Montpelier, VT

  *  Brandon N. Robinson, Balch & Bingham LLP, Birmingham, AL

  *  Ann B. Umlauf, General Counsel, Mechanical Dynamics and Analysis Ltd., Latham, NY

7:30 am edt 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Supreme Court Cracks Down on Debt Collection Lawyers
The Supreme Court in Jerman v. Carlisle, McNellie, Rini, Kramer & Ulrich LPA, held that a law firm, acting as a debt collector, could not rely on the "bona fide error" defense in connection with a mistake of law concerning the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  

All debt collection firms, and especially attorneys, will need to be far more careful when writing collection letters to ensure that both their factual and legal claims are accurate.

(Hat tip: Corey Cutter). 
9:01 am edt 

What Happened to Obama
Jennifer Rubin calls it right: The President campaigned as a moderate but, in reality, was not.  His sinking poll numbers and a discontented and growing opposition is the result when a politician dashes the expectations he has set for himself.
8:54 am edt 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

International Lawyer Rich Kayes Joins Taylor English Duma
Rich Kaye, a former partner at Arnall Golden Gregory LLP, has joined Atlanta law firm Taylor English Duma LLP.

Mr. Kaye, an attorney specializing in international business transactions, started his 27-year career working in France and the Ivory Coast. He has helped establish multiple manufacturing joint ventures and technology transfers in China and has helped Chinese clients do business in the U.S.

Mr. Kaye joins the Business Transactions, Corporate & Taxation practice at Taylor English, which was established in Atlanta in 2005. He will focus on issues ranging from reverse mergers and foreign stock listings to advising clients on how to do business abroad, according to a news release.

"Rich's addition expands the firm's capabilities in international corporate transactional work," said partner Joe English. "His experience will help us, and our clients, better serve foreign markets from Asia to Africa."

The firm has hired more than 25 new lawyers over the past year.

8:42 am edt 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Groupon Lawsuit
An unhappy customer has filed suit against Groupon, the fledgling alternative marketing service, for alleged violations of Illinois consumer protection statutes. 

Groupon sells to consumers coupons for the discounted purchase of specified products or services.  The coupons, however, usually come with conditions.  For example, you might be able to get a $10 appetizer for only $2 at XYZ restaurant, but only if at least 100 people show up with the "Groupon coupon" between 5 and 7pm, etc.

It's an interesting idea and I can see why it might catch on in larger metropolitan areas.

As the Illinois complaint highlights, however, there are some concerns under state consumer protection statutes to the extent that the Groupon program imposes post-purchase terms and conditions. 

I'm even more interested to see if some enterprising plaintiff's lawyer can put together a case that the Groupon system is a form of illegal lottery.  In most states, the combination of "prize, consideration and chance" constitutes an illegal lottery.  That is one of the reason why most fast feed giveaway promotions (in the small print) say that you can play for "free" by sending in your self-addressed envelope with your name and address to obtain a game piece at no charge.  By making the game "free" the promotional giveaway eliminates the "consideration" element of the lottery claim.

Groupon's system, at first glance, seems to have a problem under the anti-lottery rules.  Consumers may only obtain coupons by paying for them (i.e., there is no 'free' game) and the value of the coupon depends upon chance (i.e. whether enough coupon-holders arrive on time). 

Time will tell.
4:38 pm edt 

Tax Credit Financings Spur Economy
Janet Conley’s DealWatch blog mentions my partner, Aaron Kowan, in a post on real estate deals pushed forward by the Recovery Act. 

She writes, “In a market largely bereft of real estate deals, federal stimulus programs and funds are creating work for dirt lawyers—and tax and bond counsel, too.”

Conley cites a housing project financing in Decatur, Georgia that brought with it some Georgia housing tax credits.

Those state tax credits were sold to equity investor Peachtree Investment Solutions, LLC, represented by
Aaron J. Kowan at Taylor English Duma.  Kowan said his client invested about $2 million, but that the deal’s sophistication and complexity was on par with $30 million projects.

“For the size of the deal, it was probably the most complicated deal I ever worked on.”Kowan, a tax lawyer who worked on the transaction with associate Brandon C. Hardy, said the deal was complex because it involved three to four levels of debt, each with unusual business and tax issues related to the public-private partnership, and unusual guaranty provisions related to HUD backing.

Aaron is part of the Renewable Energy Finance team at Taylor English Duma and devotes a large portion of his practice to tax-credit financings and developing structures to take advantage of tax credits and similar governmental incentives.

8:49 am edt 

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Jonathan B. Wilson is an Atlanta attorney at the law firm of Taylor English Duma LLP.  Jonathan B. Wilson provides legal advice to investors, companies and business executives involving corporate law, securities law, SEC matters, intellectual property, website and Internet legal issues, start-ups, limited liability companies, partnerships, 1934 Act matters, outsourcing, strategic alliance agreements, contracts, and other matters of importance to growing private and publicly-traded companies.