Intellectual property in franchising

Your franchisees will have use of your IP during their time with your business, but it is essential to protect and control it to ensure that its integrity is maintained and that its value is used only for your benefit and that of your organisation.

Expert legal advice and guidance

At Hutchinson Thomas, our franchise team includes partners with extensive experience of dealing with IP. We will work with you to identify all of your IP and to help you ensure that it is protected during use by your franchisees and after they leave your enterprise.

We are an accredited member of the British Franchise Association, the main regulator for the UK franchise industry. We comply with the high standards it sets and adhere to its ethos of excellence and ethical franchising.

We frequently establish long-term relationships with our clients, advising them at all stages of their franchising journey. We have a strong commercial focus, identifying our clients’ business needs and aims, and working with them to ensure they have the right advice and guidance to protect their interests and deal efficiently with the legal aspects of their franchise.

Identifying your franchise’s intellectual property

In order to adequately protect your IP, you need to identify exactly what you have. IP includes your trademark, copyrights, patents, designs, software that is unique to your organisation, domain names, know-how and confidential information.

It is often more extensive than clients initially realise, and could include written materials created for your business such as operating manuals, website content, promotional literature, the contents of your database, advertising and images.

Future IP should also be considered, ie. IP which has not yet been created but which your franchisee may come into contact with over the term of their franchise. This can include confidential information, trade secrets, know-how and inventions. 

It is advisable to regularly review the extent of your IP and ensure that it has been safeguarded.

Protecting your intellectual property

Once your IP has been identified, you will need to adequately protect it. 

Some IP assets can be officially registered, such as trademarks and patents, while others, such as copyright cannot, although items can be marked as copyrighted. We have in-depth knowledge of the protection of IP and can help you identify your assets and advise you as to how they can be safeguarded.

Controlling your intellectual property

Your franchise agreement will set out in detail what your franchisee may and may not do in respect of your IP, both during the term of the franchise and after it ends. This will prevent them from using your IP for their own benefit after leaving your franchise.

The restrictions must be broad enough to provide sufficient cover, but not so broad that they are considered too wide to be legally enforceable.

Our franchise team has an excellent understanding of intellectual property and different franchise models and we can put the right documentation in place to give your business a strong framework from which to operate.

Contact us

Hutchinson Thomas is the first law firm in Wales to be awarded the Law Society Mark of Excellence. The firm and many of our lawyers are recognised year on year in the Legal 500 publication as leading individuals in their field. 

We have wide-ranging experience of the franchise industry and intellectual property and as well as leading expertise we also provide an excellent service to our franchisor clients. We will take the time to understand your business needs and make sure we are always available to speak to you when needed to answer any questions you may have.  

If you want to make sure your intellectual property is adequately protected or you would like advice regarding setting up a franchise and you would like to speak to one of our expert solicitors, ring us on the following numbers or fill in our contact form.