This is the time of year that we pause for a moment to reflect on the many things we have to be grateful for in our busy practice. We have the greatest clients in this field – engaged entrepreneurs and general counsel who take pleasure not only in the success of their companies but in the achievements of those with whom they work–and a team of professionals who impress me every day with their legal skills and deep commitment to the success of our clients and friends. So forgive me for taking a seasonal pause from our usual business of providing business and legal insight and allow me to share some of the recognition the lawyers in our group received this year for their expertise and accomplishments.
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Experts will tell you the most important thing when you consider franchising your business is to do “X” or to check out “Y” or be certain you have “Z”. For me, rule number one is not unique to franchising but something I told each of my three children as they were growing up: Rule No. 1 is to “choose carefully”*. It is good advice in life – choose carefully before going down this path or that one. It is particularly important for a franchise company.
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All too often start-up franchisors rely on a consultant or attorney to prepare their franchise agreements for them. If they work with an attorney who has extensive experience in preparing these agreements, their reliance may be appropriate, but recent legal actions against some big named franchisors demonstrate the importance of knowing what is in your agreements, and having them reviewed at least annually by someone who keeps up with trends, pronouncements, and changes in the law.

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In many new franchise systems, the most important element of the brand is the common name under which each franchised outlet operates.  If you are considering expanding your business by opening additional locations or franchising, before you get too far into the process, consult with trademark counsel to be certain you have a name that can be registered as a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

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