Borders.com is back in play

A federal judge approves a sale of the Borders.com domain and other assets.

Mark Brohan

It’s official: the e-commerce, trademark and other intellectual property assets of bankrupt Borders Group Inc., once the nation’s second-biggest book store chain, are going up on the auction block.

A federal bankruptcy judge yesterday granted a request from Borders, No. 200 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, and its major liquidation firms to auction off its intellectual property assets, including Borders.com and the Borders, Walden Books and Brentanos trademarks.

In granting the motion, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York also approved the hiring of Streambank LLC, a Boston intellectual property consulting firm, to assist in preparing for an auction of its various remaining assets. Interested bidders for all or a portion of Border’s intellectual property have until Sept. 8 to submit a bid. The auction will take place in New York on Sept. 14.

"Borders has established a worldwide reputation as a leading destination for buyers of physical and digital media including books, e-books, e-readers and related accessories,” says Streambank principal David Peress.

The auction for Borders' e-commerce assets will include several valuable properties, including its e-commerce content, the Borders.com URL, customer data from Border’s loyalty program, which at one point reached more than 40 million members, and an unspecified block of Internet Protocol Version 4, or IPv4, addresses.

IPv4 is the current Internet address system, which assigns a unique address to every Internet-connected device. With the mushrooming number of Internet-connected devices such as smartphones, electronic book readers and tablets entering the consumer market, some Internet technology analysts caution that the web will run out of available device addresses, possibly as soon as the next few years.

Borders’ block of Internet addresses could be a valuable commodity, particularly as the electronic reader device and digital content market continue to grow.

While Borders is looking to sell its e-commerce assets, Borders.com will remain live—even up until the time it comes under new ownership, says Streambank. “Borders remains engaged with its customers through the e-commerce site which it expects to continue in business until transitioned to a new operator,” says Peress.  

On July 21 with no higher bidders stepping forward after a bid from Direct Brands, a portfolio company of Najafi Cos., was rejected, the bankruptcy court approved the sale of Borders’ store-related and other assets to  its major liquidation firms: Hilco Merchant Resources, Gordon Brothers Group.

Borders filed for bankruptcy in February.


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