Franchises and Product Distribution

Our clients include both franchisors who are establishing franchises and franchisees who are negotiating ownership and operation of one or more sites for a particular franchise. Barnes & Thornburg LLP attorneys have experience handling registration and exemption filings in the various states that require registration, negotiating franchise and license agreements, drafting Franchise Disclosure Documents, and dealing with all aspects of the franchisor/franchisee and distributorship/dealer relationship, including termination issues. We have worked with franchise law issues in a number of industries, including automotive tires, restaurants, furniture restoration, office supplies, and educational services.

Barnes & Thornburg LLP lawyers involved with franchises also assist our clients understand and comply with U.S. and foreign laws that may govern the marketing of their products, including antitrust laws, laws prohibiting unfair competition, and laws restricting "dumping" of products. Our lawyers negotiate licenses, assignments, and joint ventures; prepare and register franchise and distribution agreements; and draft non-competition and confidentiality agreements.

When the franchises or distributorships involve the use of trademarks, as they often do, or when they involve the use of patented materials or methods, as they sometimes do, our experience with patents and trademarks may be useful.

If litigation results, we have an entire group that focuses on IP litigation, including franchise distributorship and dealer litigation. Members of the IP litigation group have experience litigating cases in many jurisdictions and forums throughout the United States, ranging from opposition proceedings in the United States Patent and Trademark Office to antitrust class actions to proceedings before the International Trade Commission and assisting in similar cases abroad. The litigation handled by our lawyers involves patents, trademarks, and copyrights; antitrust and unfair competition; violation of non-compete agreements; dealer and distributor termination; trade dress; and trade secrets. See our Litigation page under Intellectual Property for more information.