Home » Intellectual Property and Franchising

Franchise Intellectual Property

If I am proposing to franchise my business, what IP issues do I need to think about?

IP is at the heart of franchising. In addition to the distinctive branding, there will be a bespoke system for how to run the franchise based on certain know-how.

It is important that franchisor take appropriate steps to protect their IP from third parties, most importantly their franchisees.

What kind of IP will be involved in a franchise?

The kinds of IP involved in a franchise will typically include the following:

  • Trade marks and other branding
  • Copyright including in the operations manual, website and marketing material
  • Know-how in the franchise system

How can you protect your franchise IP?

The type of protection that is available depends on the type of IP.

  • Trade marks can be protected by registration
  • Copyright protection arises automatically and does not need to be registered
  • Know-how is generally protected by documenting it and keeping it secret

A franchise is basically a licence by a franchisor to a franchisee allowing the franchisee to use the franchisor’s IP, subject to the terms of the franchise agreement and other relevant documents including the operations manual.

A well drafted franchise agreement will contain a variety of legal provisions that are designed to protect the franchisor’s IP, including the following:

  • a clearly drafted licence in favour of the franchisee setting out what it can and cannot do with the franchisor’s IP
  • post termination covenants preventing the franchisee from competing with the franchisor for a period of usually around 12 months
  • an acknowledgment by the franchisee that:
    • the franchise IP will at all times be owned by the franchisor
    • any new IP created by the franchisee will be owned by the franchisor

Are there any other steps that can be taken to protect the franchisor’s IP?

In a franchise situation it is common for the franchise IP to be owned by either one of the founders personally or a different company to the franchisor. This is done to shelter the IP from the commercial and legal risks taken by the franchisor.

Do I need a separate IP licence agreement?

Most franchise agreements refer to the franchisor potentially asking the franchisee to sign a separate IP licence but most franchisors don’t bother doing that and just rely on the IP licence provisions contained within the franchise agreement.

If you need any advice on franchise intellectual property, please contact a member of our team in confidence here or on 02920 829 100 for a free initial call to see how they can help.


To speak to one of our experts today, please contact us on 02920 829 100 or by using our Contact Us form for a free initial chat to see how we can help.

Contact Our Team
Emily Shingler
Associate
View Profile
Kate Heaney
Senior Associate
View Profile
Rhodri Evans
Senior Associate
View Profile
Siobhan Williams
Senior Associate
View Profile
Stephen Thompson
Partner
View Profile

I have worked with Darwin Gray for a number of years and the level of service, professionalism and timely response is second to none. I would highly recommend Darwin Gray to any business.”

Becs Beslee, Dice FM Ltd

Darwin Gray have provided us with a first-class service for many years now. They really take the time to understand our business and develop relationships which results in advice and support that is contextualised and effective.”

Rebecca Cooper, ACT Training

We have worked with Darwin Gray for several years and have always found their services and advice to be first class.”

Karen Gale, Stepping Stones Group

An extremely professional and sincere company who make time for your queries and understand the need to break down certain facts and information to ensure everything is understood perfectly. I would highly recommend the company to anyone looking for any type of legal advice”

Gwawr Booth, Portal Training Ltd

PSS has worked with Darwin Gray for many years. We have always received an excellent service. Prompt and professional advice and support.”

Ledia Shabani, Property Support Services UK Ltd

We have used several departments within DG recently and we have been very pleased with an effective, efficient and down to earth service. Very happy thus far and I expect that we will continue to use DG.”

Guto Bebb, Farmers’ Union of Wales

Darwin Gray offer us truly superb services. Very professional, quick and services available bilingually which is very important to us, highly recommend.”

Iwan Hywel, Mentrau Iaith Cymru

My “go to” in urgent and time sensitive cases for direction, support and advice. The team are quick to respond to calls or emails for advice and support on all matters. Always explain complex matters in a way a lay person can easily understand.”

Margot Adams, Guarding UK Ltd

Darwin Gray have acted for myself and my company over a number of years and at all times we have been treated with a professional manner yet maintain a common-sense approach at all levels. We couldn’t recommend them more highly.”

Simon Baston, Loft Co

We have been clients of Darwin Gray for many years; they’ve always dealt with all of our legal matters with such professionalism. They work around us, even during awkward hours, and we feel confident we can always rely on them.”

Louise Williams, ACT Training

Darwin Gray has been acting for Siltbuster for more than ten years. We would have no hesitation in recommending Darwin Gray to other organisations small or large.”

Richard D Coulton, Siltbuster Ltd

From the very first conversation, I had no doubt that Darwin Gray should be the firm to receive our instructions on this matter. I would have no hesitation in recommending Darwin Gray.”

Sandra Warr, Tomos TV

We regularly instruct Darwin Gray. Their service in dealing with our transactional matters and disputes is always professional, prompt and efficient.”

John Poppleton, Absolute Property Management Solutions Ltd

Darwin Gray guided me through a long and extended process that would have been much more difficult had it not been for their patience and constant support.”

Ifan Lewis

Excellent and efficient service. Great result achieved, highly professional and transparent on pricing. Would recommend.”

David Stevens

Superb legal service provided. Exceeded expectations. They went above and beyond in order to provide the best service possible.”

Huw Pickrell

Very professional and understanding. They were a calming influence in a very troubling situation and they brought it to a very successful conclusion”

Rachel Jones

We have used Darwin Gray and have been seriously impressed. The personal approach is what Darwin Gray are excelling on and is the reason why we will continue to work with them in the future.”

Cadwyn Housing Association