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Franchising & Distribution



Our internationally recognized team helps clients create business opportunities, develop highly marketable brands, protect and defend their position in the market, and grow their business territory.

Our approach

The franchising industry is dramatically shifting from domestic growth to international development. And we’re seeing an increase in large multi-unit and area developers. Our focus is, and always will be, on helping clients make smart/strategic decisions that enable them to grow and protect their businesses while also taking advantage of trends that further their business objectives.

We have deep understanding and experience in helping clients navigate every phase of the franchising process, from startup and business concept refinement through business launch and international expansion, and we’ve got an extensive track record of successfully litigating matters on behalf of franchise systems, domestically and internationally.

Hundreds of franchise systems in more than 85 countries throughout the world rely on us for everything from global expansion and brand development/protection strategies, to licensing and distribution issues, and “bet the company” litigation. For three of the past four years, U.S. News/Best Lawyers has honored us as “Law Firm of the Year” for franchising!

We provide top-notch client service and comprehensive, cost-effective solutions to address your most complex business issues.

Who we work with

  • Restaurants
  • Retailers and distributors
  • Learning centers and fitness centers
  • Hotels and resorts
  • Luxury brands

Representative Experience

Transactions
  • Represented Au Bon Pain in negotiation with a PE fund in its acquisition of foreign master franchisee
  • Provided franchise law diligence and advice for the $36 million private equity investment of Falconhead Capital in Rita's Italian Ice and represented Rita’s from its founding until the second round of PE investment
  • Represented Wyndham Hotel Group (then Cendant) in the acquisition of Ramada Hotel brand international franchise rights (about 250 hotels)
  • Represented School of Rock in sale to a private equity group, and provided continued representation during its ownership by PE group; we also represented the same PE group on diligence related to a child care service franchisor
International Dispute Resolution Cases
  • Represent the Republic of Turkey in defense of claim of misappropriation of real estate investment trust before the International Centre for Settlement of Investor Disputes venued in Paris.
  • Represent an intellectual property licensor and lessor of robotics against a Brazilian company before the International Center for Dispute Resolution in New York.
  • Represented the Republic of Turkey in defense of claim of wrongful termination of a license to operate a power plant before the International Court of Commerce venued in Geneva.
  • Obtained multi-million dollar judgment against Asia-Pacific restaurant master franchisee and its guarantors for breach of a multi-territory master franchise agreement. Contract breach due to non-payment of royalties, advertising fees, minimum fees, and other fees over a three year period. Arbitrated before the American Arbitration Association under its international rules.
  • Obtained million dollar settlement for restaurant franchisor in Japanese master franchise agreement buy-out/termination, following multi-day negotiations and mediation.
  • Successfully defended restaurant franchisor against fraud claims by foreign master franchisee. Overseas action was dismissed after we filed suit in Texas to compel arbitration and the court ordered arbitration.
  • Represented U.S. patent holder and trademark licensor against Brazilian company before the International Centre for Dispute Resolution in New York City.
Litigation
  • Lakes Gas Co v. Fencl Oil & L.P. Co., Inc., et al. (N.D.Iowa) Secured a unanimous $2.7 million jury verdict in contract action involving propane distribution on behalf of Lakes Gas Company.
  • Pinnacle Pizza Co. v. Little Caesar Enterprises (D.S.D.) Obtained summary judgment in favor of pizza franchisor Little Caesar Enterprises, Inc. in a copyright and trademark infringement dispute.  Successfully represented Little Caesar Enterprises on appeal affirming the district court's decision.
  • Monster Cable Products, Inc. v. Monster Mini Golf, LLC (E.D. Cal.) Defended franchisor of Monster mini-golf course concept and one of its franchisees in federal trademark infringement and unfair competition case brought by Monster Cable, Inc. claiming that its various MONSTER trademarks were being infringed. Monster Cable claimed it had accumulated a portfolio of licenses and trademark rights to use the word “Monster” in connection with various business applications.  Settled on favorable terms.
  • DeGiovanni v. Jani-King (D. Mass.) Myers v. Jani-King (E.D. Pa.) Class action alleging violation of state wage payment laws, misclassification of franchisees as employees, and unfair and deceptive trade practices. Additional issues include enforcement of forum selection clause, choice of law clause, and inherent “fairness” of royalty and other fees disclosed in FDD and contained in franchise agreement.
  • Huntington Learning Centers, Inc. v. The Education Gateway, Inc. (C.D. Cal.) Action to enforce terms of confidentiality agreement and breach of franchise agreement arising from alleged non-payment of royalties; default obtained against former franchisee.
  • Barkan v. Dunkin’ Brands, Inc. (D.R.I.) Represented Dunkin Brands related to $13,000,000 fraud and breach of contract claims by former franchisee. Jury trial in December 2009 ended in mistrial, and retrial in January 2010 ended in directed verdict for franchisor. Appeal to First Circuit is anticipated.
  • GHN, Inc. v. Volvo Cars of North America (San Bernardino Cty. Super. Ct.) Represented automobile franchisor in lawsuit alleging that it breached agreement and defrauded dealer in connection with mandatory facility improvements, allegedly rendering the dealer less profitable. Mediated to favorable conclusion.
  • Ford Motor Credit Co. v. Wilhelm & Associates, Inc. (C.D. Cal.) Defended automobile company in lawsuit alleging fraud, negligent misrepresentation, conspiracy, and unfair business practices in connection with decision by Ford Motor Credit Corporation to cease providing financing to Mazda dealers concurrent with automobile industry fiscal crisis. Obtained dismissal of all claims except fraud; case settled on extremely favorable terms.
  • Kiddie Academy Domestic Franchising LLC v. Faith Enterprises DC, LLC (D. Md.) Defended multi-million dollar fraud and breach of contract claims by franchisee. Summary judgment in favor of franchisor on all claims.
  • Cold Stone Creamery, Inc. v. P&C Creamery (D. Mass.) Represented Cold Stone Creamery in an action to enforce franchise termination and post-term covenant. Franchisee filed for bankruptcy upon franchisor’s filing of complaint. Also, represented franchisor in related adversary proceeding in bankruptcy court and obtained preliminary injunctive relief shutting down location and enforcing post-term covenants.
  • Manhattan Bagel of Northeast, Inc. v. Manhattan Bagel Co. (N.J. Super.) Represented Manhattan Bagel Co. after franchisees claimed breach of contract due to changes in the franchise system and lack of franchisor support. Franchisor compelled arbitration and was awarded entire amount sought for past and future royalties. Franchisees filed bankruptcy during the proceeding, and franchisor successfully objected to a discharge.
  • Meade v. Essential Brands (D.N.J.) Represented Essential Brands in successfully obtaining motion to dismiss RICO, securities law and franchise law claims.
  • Lakes Gas Co. v. Clark Oil Trading Co., (D. Kan.) Successful settlement of multimillion dollar propane conversion case on behalf of Lakes Gas Co.

Rankings & Honors

  • For four of the past six years, U.S. News/Best Lawyers has named Nixon Peabody “Law Firm of the Year” in Franchise Law (2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017)
  • Chambers USA
  • Chambers Global
  • Franchise Times “Legal Eagles 2016”

Attorneys published in International Franchising 2016

Nassau Guardian | November 30, 2016

Washington DC M&A and Corporate Transactions partner Kendal Tyre is mentioned in this article announcing the publication of “International Financing 2016:  Legal and Business Considerations.” Kendal developed the reference guide with more than 70 attorneys from around the world.

Planet Fitness Member Contract Class Action Trimmed In NJ

Law360 | July 30, 2016

New York City partner Craig Tractenberg, Boston partner Arthur Pressman, Manchester partner Dan Deane and Boston associate Morgan Nighan are mentioned as representing Planet Fitness in a case about its membership agreements with regard to state consumer protection laws.

Franchising Business & Law Alert

Franchising Business & Law Alert | May 01, 2016

New York City partner Craig Tractenberg authored this column discussing the complexities of covenants not to compete.

Enforcement of Court Orders and Contempt Proceedings

The Legal Intelligencer | April 22, 2016

New York City partner Craig Tractenberg authored this column that looks at a few franchisor/franchise cases that demonstrate the need to aggressively enforce court orders and follow the rules on calculating damages even in contempt proceedings.

Q&A with Nixon Peabody's Craig Tractenberg

Law360 | April 06, 2016

New York City partner Craig Tractenberg is featured in a special Q&A discussing his experiences with international arbitration.

Former Franchisee Relocates and Avoids Exposure in Aamco Case

The Legal Intelligencer | March 25, 2016

New York City partner Craig Tractenberg authored this column that looks at the complexities of covenants not to compete.

Can an Applicant With a Criminal History Buy a Franchise?

The Legal Intelligencer | January 22, 2016

New York City partner Craig Tractenberg authored this column discussing whether a potential franchisee can purchase a franchise with a criminal history.

Shout-Out: Nixon Peabody Scores Win for Planet Fitness in Transgender Locker Room Suit

American Lawyer Litigation Daily | January 13, 2016

This feature story highlights the firm’s efforts securing a dismissal of transgender locker room policy lawsuit for client Planet Fitness. The Boston team of partner Art Pressman and associate Troy Lieberman are noted as counsel.

State, Federal Law Differ on Franchisors as Joint Employers

The Legal Intelligencer | September 30, 2015

New York City IP litigation partner Craig Tractenberg authored this column discussing differences in state and federal law related to franchisors as joint employers.

Planet Fitness asks Beale to dismiss Cormier's suit

Midland Daily News | September 26, 2015

Boston Franchise partner Art Pressman is noted as counsel for Planet Fitness parent company, Pla-Fit Franchise LLC, in its efforts to dismiss a lawsuit involving the gym’s transgender-friendly locker room policy.

3 Major Challenges of Franchising In Africa

Law360 | September 16, 2015

Washington, DC, partner Kendal Tyre and Washington, DC, associate Pierce Han authored this column discussing some of the major legal and business considerations to keep in mind when franchising in Africa.

Avoiding Vicarious Liability for Accident Resulting From Delivery

The Legal Intelligencer | August 28, 2015

New York City IP Litigation partner Craig Tractenberg authored this column discussing vicarious liability resulting from a car accident involving a food delivery service.

The Differences in the Diligence Process for Franchisors

The Legal Intelligencer | June 26, 2015

New York City partner and leader of the firm’s Franchise & Distribution practice Craig Tractenberg authored this column on how the diligence process differs for franchisors and the role of the franchise disclosure document.

People on the Move

Boston Business Journal | May 13, 2015

Boston Franchise & Distribution partner Arthur Pressman has been appointed to the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission by Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

The Pendulum Swings in Two Massachusetts Franchise Cases

The Legal Intelligencer | April 24, 2015

New York City partner and leader of the firm’s Franchise & Distribution practice Craig Tractenberg and Providence Labor & Employment associate Jessica Jewell coauthored this article on two Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decisions which provide valuable lessons for franchise systems with respect to tipping policies.

Franchisor Wins IP Dispute

Franchising Business & Law Alert | March 01, 2015

New York City partner and leader of the firm’s Franchise & Distribution practice Craig Tractenberg authored this column discussing when trademark licensees can and cannot continue to use their trademarks over the franchisor's objections.

Credit Card Information Security Issues in Franchising

The Legal Intelligencer | October 31, 2014

New York City partner and leader of the firm’s Franchise & Distribution practice Craig Tractenberg and Washington, DC, IP Litigation and Franchise & Distribution associate Keri McWilliams authored this piece discussing important data security issues for the franchise industry.

Franchisors Should Stay Out of Franchisee Personnel Management

The Legal Intelligencer | September 26, 2014

New York City partner and leader of the Franchise & Distribution practice Craig Tractenberg and Los Angeles Labor & Employment associate Michael Curtis authored this column on circumstances where a franchisor may be liable for alleged employment law violations.

NLRB Considering New Standards for Joint-Employer Status

Compliance Week | September 03, 2014

Providence Labor & Employment partner Andrew Prescott and New York City partner and leader of the firm’s Franchising & Distribution practice Craig Tractenberg provide commentary on possible new standards from the National Labor Relations Board regarding two separate employers deemed as “joint employers.”

Minimum-Wage Increase Attacks Advantages of Franchising

The Legal Intelligencer | July 25, 2014

New York City partner and leader of the Franchise & Distribution practice Craig Tractenberg discusses efforts by the International Franchise Association (IFA) and five franchisees seeking to block a law to increase Seattle's minimum wage given its potential impact on the franchise method of doing business.

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