Trademark Licensing: Avoiding the Accidental Franchise in Structuring Licenses

Navigating Differences Between Trademark Licenses and Franchises, Avoiding Naked Licenses

Recording of a 90-minute premium CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Thursday, October 13, 2016

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Program Materials

This CLE webinar will provide guidance to IP counsel on drafting trademark licenses to avoid creating an accidental franchise. The panel will discuss the differences between trademark licenses and franchises, structuring the licenses, and avoiding a naked license. The panel will also offer best practices for complying with franchise laws if an inadvertent franchise has been established.


Trademark owners license their trademarks to maximize their brands. While counsel must understand trademark licensing fundamentals, they must also understand the differences and the overlap between trademark licensing and franchise law. A poorly drafted license can result in the accidental creation of a franchise subject to complicated and demanding laws. Significant consequences, including damages, fines and penalties can flow from noncompliance with franchise laws.

One of the differences between a trademark license agreement and franchise agreement is the level of control. A well drafted trademark license will include quality-control provisions. If a trademark owner fails to maintain control over use of the mark, the licensor could lose all rights in a trademark. This is known as a naked license.

Trademark counsel can help clients avoid stepping over the thin line separating a trademark license and a franchise. Counsel can also arm clients to strategically structure and manage trademark licensing agreements that won’t result in exposure to franchise laws.

Listen as our authoritative panel of attorneys examines the differences between trademark licenses and franchises and provides best practices for structuring the licenses to avoid creating a franchise agreement. The panel will also discuss best practices for avoiding a naked license and for complying with franchise laws if an inadvertent franchise has been established.



  1. Differences between trademark licenses and franchises
  2. Best practices for structuring the licenses
    1. Avoid creating a franchise agreement
    2. Avoid naked licenses
  3. Strategies for complying with franchise laws if an inadvertent franchise has been established


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • How do trademark licenses differ from franchise arrangements?
  • How do accidental franchise claims arise?
  • What best practices can counsel employ to avoid creating a franchise agreement? To avoid a naked license?


Kenneth R. Costello
Kenneth R. Costello

Bryan Cave

Mr. Costello specializes in U.S. and international franchising law and product and service distribution. His...  |  Read More

Mark Kirsch
Mark Kirsch

Gray Plant Mooty

Mr. Kirsch focuses his practice on domestic and international franchising and distribution matters. He represents and...  |  Read More

Spandorf, Rochelle
Rochelle (Shelley) Spandorf

Davis Wright Tremaine

Ms. Spandorf focuses her practice on business franchise and distribution issues, representing franchisors,...  |  Read More

Other Formats
— Anytime, Anywhere

Strafford will process CLE credit for one person on each recording. All formats include program handouts. To find out which recorded format will provide the best CLE option, select your state:

CLE On-Demand Video