Franchises: Nothing Without a Trademark

Brian Hall - February 10, 2017 - Trademark Basics, Trademark Law


Put simply, a trademark is a necessary building block to any franchise.  We have represented franchisors and franchisees across a whole range of trademark matters.  We have helped franchisors select, clear, apply for, register and enforce their trademark.  We have been there when a franchisor chooses to, or is forced to, rebrand its trademark. There are numerous trademark and brand protection strategies for franchisors, though the following should absolutely be considered:

  1. Trademark Selection – Choose a distinctive trademark and be sure it is one that will not subject you to claims of trademark infringement.’
  2. Register Your Trademark – Apply to register it as soon as possible, including in the geographic locations in which you intend to do business.  For US-based franchisors, start with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
  3. Police, Protect and Enforce Your Trademark – This is important to both franchisors and franchisees alike, with the responsibility for doing so applicable to both.
  4. Control the Quality of Your Trademark – Controlling quality pertains to both the goodwill associated with the trademark but also the underlying goods/services offered in connection with the trademark.
  5. Recognize the Importance of Your Trademark – Without your trademark, you have no franchise.  As a franchisor, if you fail to maintain your trademark, you are likely in violation of your franchise agreement with your franchisee.

Ultimately, trademarks are as important to a franchise as the underlying good or service.  The trademark is the basis for the license to use the the franchised items.  If you start knowing you wish to operate as a franchise, you can give the trademark process the attention it deserves immediately.  However, knowing that some businesses start without the idea of franchising only to actually become a franchisor, any business should ensure their trademark rights are in order.

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