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Report on the fourth Hardwicke Annual Franchising Conference

Hardwicke’s fourth Annual Franchising Conference was held on the 16th of November at the Law Society, London. Titled Has Your Business Got the X-Factor? Expanding a Franchise – the European and International Perspective, the conference dealt with the issues franchisors and master franchisees might face when expanding a franchise business internationally. The day was well attended with over 60 delegates from a range of law irms such as DLA Piper, Olswang, Norton Rose and Withers as well as franchisors from a variety of businesses.

Hardwicke’s Nigel Jones QC opened the day and welcomed the delegates.

Manzoor Ishani of Sherrards Solicitors and Stagecoach Theatre Arts PLC began by giving the audience practical tips on how to expand a national franchise internationally.

Hardwicke’s Mark Engelman and Ian Silcock were next and covered the intellectual property aspects of expansion. Mark started the session by outlining how franchisors can lose their trademarks. He illustrated the factors that make good, bad and non-distinctive marks as well as what constitutes non-use both inside and outside the UK. Ian spoke about the issues specific to domain names including an analysis of the problems and suggestions about how to resolve them. He went on to discuss the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) and what it entails.

After the coffee break, Alexander Goold and Graham Cunningham examined the different ways disputes can be resolved. Alex began by outlining the kinds of disputes franchisors can find themselves in when expanding their franchises overseas. He covered the choice of law available as well as the range of dispute resolution methods available. Graham dealt with the pros and cons of mediation as a method to resolve disputes and also signposted the potential difficulties of working with different cultures.

Melvin Lusty, Chairman of Chemex International and Board Member of the British Franchise Association, gave practical advice on becoming a Master Franchisee in the UK when the franchise is not based in the UK. His lively talk drew on his own experiences and gave the delegates plenty of useful information.
Manzoori Ishani returned to give an example of a UK franchise that has expanded internationally and highlighted how they were able to achieve it.

After lunch Hamilton Pratt’s John Pratt gave a dynamic presentation on the Competition Law aspects of the New Vertical Block Exemption covering what this means since the new procedures came in to place on the 1st of June 2010.

The final speaker of the day was Martin Francis, Senior Manager in the Global & Corporate Franchising Unit at HSBC. Martin covered international franchising from the banking perspective including outlining what support banks can give franchisors as well as how franchisees can secure finance.

The day concluded with a lively and informative plenary session chaired by Hardwicke’s Nigel Jones QC and including the speakers from previous sessions. The session dealt with a wide range of questions concerning the issues raised during the day.

For more information or to register your interest for next year's conference please contact Marketing Manager Louise Poppelwell