Cellwave was a limited partnership that applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a

Cellwave was a limited partnership that applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a license to operate cellular telephone systems. After the FCC awarded the license, it discovered that, although all the limited partners had signed the limited partnership agreement, Cellwave had never filed its limited partnership certificate with the Secretary of State in Delaware. The FCC dismissed Cellwave’s application on the grounds that the partnership did not exist when the application was filed. Did the FCC have the right to dismiss Cellwave’s application? Argument for Cellwave: The limited partnership was effectively in existence as soon as the limited partners signed the agreement. The Secretary of State could not refuse to accept the certificate for filing; that was a mere formality. Argument for the FCC: When Cellwave applied for a license, it did not exist legally. Formalities matter.

 

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