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Where franchise and intellectual property law intersect

On Behalf of | Feb 20, 2020 | Franchise Law |

When you have found a company whose brand really speaks to you or whose products or services overlap with what you hope to do with your own business, entering into a franchise agreement with that company can be beneficial for both parties. You get to benefit from a company’s established reputation, while the business offering the franchise gets to expand and further develop its brand and customer base.

You will likely also pay substantial fees to the company for franchise rights. Those payments may lead you to believe that you have the right to market your particular franchise the way you want and to even use the company’s logos, trademarks and slogans for your own purposes.

However, the chances are very good that your franchise contract dictates how you use the intellectual property of the company. Most companies, especially those with independent franchises in multiple different markets, want to carefully curate their brand and any marketing done with their company name or logo.

The company you work with wants to control its image

Consistency and careful planning are critical parts of establishing a brand identity. If a company has a totally different look and feel in person than it does online, customers can feel confused about the brand. The same is true for franchise companies that differ substantially from location to location.

When customers can’t expect consistency, the result may be confusion about the brand itself which can drive customers into the waiting arms of competitors. Businesses often try to avoid this kind of confusion by preventing franchisees from any kind of independent marketing that would confuse the primary brand.

In some cases, the corporate offices will have the final say in any marketing you perform, as well as any use of company logos, images and trademarks. Somewhat larger franchise businesses may provide you with purchase-ready advertising and radio ads, would you can opt into if you want to make that investment.

Your contract will indicate what marketing rights you have

You could find yourself in violation of both your franchise agreement and intellectual property laws if you attempt to use the companies trademark or other intellectual property for unapproved marketing purposes.

No matter how clever the pun or slogan you’ve thought up, you may not be able to use it for marketing without permission. Reviewing your franchise contract can give you an idea of what options you have.