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Protecting Franchisor Intellectual Property 

Intellectual property (IP) plays an important role for franchised businesses. Names, logos, slogans, trade dress, recipes, processes and other IP shows customers that businesses are connected, which lends the value and reputation of one business to another. Whether you have already established a franchise or you are taking the steps to start one, consider the role IP plays in your business model, and how you can protect your intellectual property when franchising. Work with experienced franchise attorneys and you can effectively license your IP while retaining ownership.

Manage Your IP Portfolio

Before franchising, it is important to assess your IP. In order to know how to protect your intellectual property in the franchise agreement, you must first take stock of the IP you have. Think of all the distinguishing features of your brand; your name and logo, unique processes, recipes or designs, books, songs, or artistic works you’ve created. Thousands of items can be protected under IP law, some of which you may not be aware of. An attorney specializing in business IP can help you assemble and manage your IP portfolio.

Register Your IP

While some trademark and copyright protections are provided without registration, it is much more difficult to license unregistered IP. Proper registration is the first step to successfully license and protect your IP. Registration can be completed through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or the U.S. Copyright Office.

Stop Infringement Immediately

If your IP is infringed upon at any point during or after franchising, it is paramount to stop the infringement immediately. This may be as simple as sending a cease and desist letter to parties that are unaware of infringement, or it may require litigating against parties willfully stealing your IP. Infringement on your IP not only causes you to lose money, but it also degrades the value of your brand. Additionally, unchecked IP infringement weakens the legal standing and protection of your IP. The longer infringement goes on, the harder it is to prevent.


Done correctly, franchising is a profitable businesses opportunity and an effective way to expand your business. Taking the proper steps and establishing firm contracts from the outset will prevent disputes and protect your intellectual property when franchising. If you are ready to franchise, or if you have already started your franchise and you have questions about the use of your IP, contact us today.

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