The EU Trade Secrets Directive seeks to harmonise the protection of trade secrets in all EU member states. In general, the implementation of the directive is positive for franchisors, as the protection of trade secrets and confidential information is key to the success of a franchise system. Although franchisors may be able to rely on the statutory definition of 'trade secret' set out under the directive, they should nonetheless continue to ensure that their confidential information is safeguarded contractually.
Franchising provides a flexible model for growth or re-engineering, with a variety of structures to meet different needs. Of all of the structures, the joint venture franchise is the least understood and most likely to cause difficulties if not structured correctly. In order to understand why this is so, it is necessary to consider the rationale for using the joint venture model and the manner in which such a relationship should be structured.
The IP Enterprise Court recently considered the impact of the EU Trade Secrets Directive on the law of breach of confidence – in particular, in the context of ex-employees who sought to franchise their services. The case confirms the limited impact of the directive on the pre-existing law on breach of confidence. However, it also indicates that the directive can be useful in helping to tease out the distinctions between confidential and non-confidential information.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the government has stated that new tools will be added to the UK insolvency framework, including a moratorium for companies to give them "breathing space from creditors enforcing their debts while they seek a rescue or restructure". The government is also expected to introduce a moratorium provision, introduce an exclusion of ipso facto clauses and suspend temporarily wrongful trading provisions. This article considers what the changes would mean for franchisors.
In the wake of the economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 crisis, a number of high-profile brands in the leisure and hospitality sectors have entered or will soon enter into formal insolvency processes. Although failure rates among franchises are typically lower than among non-franchised businesses, franchising will not be immune to this trend. It is therefore important that franchisors and suppliers ensure that they have the contractual rights to act quickly and effectively if the need arises.
In 2019 the new EU Trademarks Directive was implemented in the United Kingdom. As part of this implementation, numerous changes were made to the licensing provisions of the Trademarks Act. This article sets out the changes which are most significant for franchisors, including limited direct enforcement rights for non-exclusive licensees and enhanced direct enforcement rights for exclusive licensees.
There is no one-size-fits-all plan for how businesses should respond to the COVID-19 crisis. However, this article provides some guidance for businesses which are primarily consumer focused and use franchise and distribution networks to sell their products and services in order to help them to respond to the challenges ahead and hopefully even emerge on a stronger footing than before.