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Published January 17, 2024

Catherine Cavella, ESQ.

When your business reaches the point of growth where franchising becomes a possibility, it’s important to effectively capitalize on the opportunities ahead. This is a significant milestone that will transform your business and demands a meticulous approach. One of your biggest challenges through growth is maximizing the protection and utilization of the intellectual property (IP) you’ve worked so hard to build and preserve.


Your IP portfolio is the result of intense innovation and hard work. It’s what distinguishes your business in a competitive market. As you venture into franchising, it’s imperative to navigate the complexities of licensing your valuable IP to third-party franchisees and the new challenges created by branching out.


Ensuring robust protection of your franchise IP is vital in this phase of growth. Remember, all renowned franchises start with a single step; your business might be on the cusp of becoming the next big name.


Know What Years of Hard Work Is Worth

The initial step in your franchising journey comes down to recognizing the true worth of your intellectual property and the time and effort it took to get where you are today. The business model you’ve painstakingly developed is now poised to be replicated by third parties through franchising.


Franchise fees typically involve two key financial components: an upfront franchise fee and ongoing royalties, which are a percentage of each franchise’s revenue. This structure allows you to duplicate your successful business model without the direct responsibility of managing multiple franchise locations.


It’s essential to assess the value of your IP portfolio and other business assets, like trade secrets and marketing plans, before you reach the franchise stage. This assessment will define how much your brand is worth as you make decisions on each franchise’s fee structure.


Secure and Enforce IP Protection Before Franchising

As we just mentioned, it’s critical to protect and enforce IP protections before branching out to franchises. Doing so involves obtaining trademarks, patents, and copyrights for all essential business assets — and ensuring your trade secrets are secure and documented — and then effectively enforcing them to protect your brand. Failure to actively enforce your IP rights can lead to their dilution or loss entirely, exposing certain brand elements to abuse and unauthorized use.


It’s essential to secure and enforce these protections before you start franchising. Neglecting this step can result in the devaluation of your IP or its misuse by franchisees who don’t understand the scope of protections or licensing rights. By safeguarding your IP ahead of franchising, you ensure the integrity of your business model and branding is maintained.


Communicate Your IP Strategy with Each Franchise

Expanding into franchising places your brand in the hands of franchisees, making it crucial to effectively communicate your IP strategy to them. This may involve implementing Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) for staff and franchise owners who handle sensitive business information and IP.


Taking proactive measures allows you to maintain a high standard of protection for your valuable IP and brand identity. Educating franchisees on the permitted uses of brand elements is equally important. They should be fully aware that their use of this IP is limited to the terms of the license agreement with you, and any deviation requires explicit approval. Sticking to the terms of the licenses drafted by an attorney ensures uniformity and consistency in the representation of your brand across all franchises.


Franchise Legal Counsel with IP Works Law

Expanding your business through franchising and protecting your IP brings on unique challenges – ones that you shouldn’t attempt to take on by yourself. Relying on the experience and knowledge of a reputable franchise legal counsel in Pennsylvania is crucial to expanding your company.


At IP Works Law, we focus on assisting companies in both their initial franchising efforts and in managing the growth of their franchises. We are committed to ensuring that your IP portfolio and strategy not only comply with legal requirements but also add value to your brand as it expands. Our team provides tailored legal advice and support, ensuring a secure and successful transition into franchising.


Contact IP Works Law to Power Your Ideas® and fortify the future of your franchise.

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Since 1992, Catherine Cavella, Esq. Her focus on Trademark Law and Copyright Law for the last few decades gives her deep insights into the fundamental principles behind the rules. Catherine regularly writes about new developments in trademark law, copyright law, and internet law.