Clients utilizing our franchise, distribution and licensing services range in size from national and international franchisors to start-up franchise programs. U.S. News Media Group and Best Lawyers have recognized Snell & Wilmer's franchise practice as a "National Tier 1" law firm, the highest rating available, for the eighth consecutive year in the 2018 edition of "Best Law Firms."
Franchising and Licensing
In representing franchisors we routinely assist them in structuring franchise programs, preparing Franchise Disclosure Documents and registering them in the states that require registration of franchise offerings. We also assist our clients in expanding their franchise programs internationally, and in helping franchisors based in other countries introduce their systems into the United States. We have assisted clients in establishing and administering franchise compliance programs, franchise advisory councils, and in establishing advertising associations. Snell & Wilmer attorneys are also experienced in representing area development, master franchise and subfranchise systems, and in assisting clients with licensing and technology agreements. Snell & Wilmer also advises clients in mergers and acquisitions of franchise companies. We have significant experience in reviewing leases and real estate purchase and sale agreements for franchise systems. We have also advised non-franchised distribution systems with respect to franchise laws, business opportunity laws and other laws that may affect them. We have defended companies in investigations and enforcement actions by state and federal regulatory authorities. Snell & Wilmer attorneys also represent many national franchisors as local or regional counsel in connection with franchise litigation, mediation and arbitration matters, including antitrust and product distribution claims and class action defense. Snell & Wilmer also has an active appellate practice and recently filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the International Franchise Association in a case before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Snell & Wilmer’s intellectual property practice includes virtually every aspect of intellectual property, including federal trademark and service mark registration, state trademark and trade name registration, trade secret protection, copyright registration and protection, and patent prosecution and protection.
- Federal Trademark Registration and Protection
Our attorneys routinely provide services on name availability and selection of marks, as well as preparation of use-based and intent-based registration applications, prosecution of applications in the Patent and Trademark Office through the registration process, and the policing and enforcement of federal trademark and service mark rights and rights under Federal Unfair Competition laws. We also offer state registration services including preparation of state trademark and trade name applications, renewals and assignments of the state registration and the enforcement and policing of trademark and trade name rights. Working with local counsel, we also routinely assist clients in protecting their intellectual property internationally.
- Trade Secret Protection
Our experienced attorneys are able to assist clients in the formulation of methods and procedures to protect confidential and proprietary information and trade secrets. We also assist in the preparation of confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements.
Our services include counseling clients on the protection of their copyright interests. Our attorneys are engaged in the negotiation and preparation of copyright licensing agreements and software licensing contracts.
The breadth of our franchise, distribution and licensing practice is illustrated by the following samples of projects in which Snell & Wilmer attorneys have been involved:
- Advised client in acquisition of company with domestic and international franchised retail outlets.
- Established registration and compliance programs for numerous franchise concepts including obtaining registrations in registration states, in some cases utilizing the coordinated review process.
- Assisted major hotel company in converting its disclosure documents from UFOC Guidelines format to that of the amended FTC Rule.
- Franchise counsel in acquisition of fitness concept by lodging company.
- Structured franchise program based solely on fractional franchise exemptions.
- Structured non-franchised distribution systems.
- Represented clients in state and federal franchise investigations and enforcement actions and the settlement of those actions.
- Franchise counsel for franchisor in mediation with franchisee association resulting in re-drafting of the system’s franchise agreement as part of the mediation process.
- Represented major franchisor as local arbitration counsel in handling all arbitration and litigation matters in Arizona.
- Analyzed and handled trademark registration, infringement and licensing matters for numerous clients.
- Provided counsel for major franchise chain in structuring several international franchise agreements in Canada, Japan and Taiwan.
- Provided West Coast counsel for national franchisor in over 10 franchise termination cases, including franchisee claims of fraud, misrepresentation and RICO related matters.
- Assisted publicly-held restaurant franchisor in development and franchise agreements in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Mexico, Dubai and India.
- Franchise counsel in franchisor’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings (including negotiation and settlement with creditors committee consisting of franchisee association representatives and settlement of state enforcement action) and represented franchisor’s interest in franchisee bankruptcy.
- Advised franchisors in sales and acquisitions of franchise companies including the sale of a non-franchised company that involved the winding down of an affiliate franchised concept.
- Provided counsel to national fast-food franchisor in connection with franchise termination and nonrenewal legislation as introduced in Arizona.
- Litigated non-competition agreements for franchisors.
- Represented Arizona-based franchisor in initial public offering.
- Provided counsel in recapitalization of Arizona-based franchisor seeking to set up area development program.
- Assisted local investors in financing purchase of Arizona sports franchise.