SEC v. Edwards, 540 U.S. 389, 4 (2004)

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Opinion of the Court

equipment, arranged for connection and long-distance service, collected coin revenues, and maintained and repaired the phones. Under the buyback agreement, ETS promised to refund the full purchase price of the package at the end of the lease or within 180 days of a purchaser's request.

In its marketing materials and on its Web site, ETS trumpeted the "incomparable pay phone" as "an exciting business opportunity," in which recent deregulation had "open[ed] the door for profits for individual pay phone owners and operators." According to ETS, "[v]ery few business opportunities can offer the potential for ongoing revenue generation that is available in today's pay telephone industry." App. 114-115 (ETS brochure); id., at 227 (ETS Web site); see id., at 13 (Complaint ¶¶ 37-38).

The payphones did not generate enough revenue for ETS to make the payments required by the leaseback agreements, so the company depended on funds from new investors to meet its obligations. In September 2000, ETS filed for bankruptcy protection. The SEC brought this civil enforcement action the same month. It alleged that respondent and ETS had violated the registration requirements of 5(a) and (c) of the Securities Act of 1933, 68 Stat. 684, 15 U. S. C. 77e(a), (c), the antifraud provisions of both 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, 114 Stat. 2763A-452, 15 U. S. C. 77q(a), and 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 48 Stat. 891, as amended, 114 Stat. 2763A-454, 15 U. S. C. 78j(b), and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, 17 CFR 240.10b-5 (2003). The District Court concluded that the payphone sale-and-leaseback arrangement was an investment contract within the meaning of, and therefore was subject to, the federal securities laws. SEC v. ETS Payphones, Inc., 123 F. Supp. 2d 1349 (ND Ga. 2000). The Court of Appeals reversed. 300 F. 3d 1281 (CA11 2002) (per curiam). It held that respondent's scheme was not an investment contract, on two grounds. First, it read this Court's opinions to require that an investment contract offer either capital appreciation

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