Franchise and Distribution

Venable's franchise lawyers represent many of the world's leading brands. We are trial lawyers with decades of experience litigating issues unique to franchising throughout the United States and in international arbitrations. We are also transactional counsel who guide franchise systems through development, licensing, franchise disclosure documents, and other business transactions.

Our attorneys have deep industry experience, representing and advising major players in the restaurant, consumer product, and hospitality realms—both nationally and internationally. This experience includes litigation related to trademarks, the implementation and enforcement of system standards, and commercial disputes. We've handled workout agreements and disputes for all sorts of service providers, fast-food chains, and food and beverage companies. With many of our lawyers serving as leaders in the major franchise industry trade groups, including the International Franchise Association and the American Bar Association's Forum on Franchising, we are well equipped to prepare franchise disclosure documents; franchise, license, and development agreements; and other contracts linked to franchising.

Our knowledge extends well beyond franchising and distribution laws. We advise on issues tied to advertising and marketing, construction and real estate, labor and employment, and intellectual property of all kinds. Our team practices "preventive law" to spare clients the expense and uncertainty of litigation, through careful and collaborative planning, problem solving, transaction structuring, and drafting. But when the need arises, Venable has a highly recognized litigation practice full of attorneys experienced in handling Lanham Act claims, franchisee wrongful termination claims, litigation of supplier issues, class actions, regulatory issues, and various other franchise-related issues. We have represented franchisors around the world, successfully defending against hundreds of millions of dollars in claims. Our teams are armed with deep knowledge and experience and are ready to handle whatever challenges arise.


  • Defended an international apparel retailer in a development dispute in Central America
  • Represented a franchisor in facilitating workouts and financial restructurings of more than 3,000 financially stressed franchisee locations
  • Defended a franchisor in disclosure litigation involving pricing markups
  • Defended a fast-food franchisor in a false advertising class action relating to ingredients and cooking methods
  • Negotiated hundreds of franchise agreements for an international hotel franchisor
  • Completed a tax-based restructuring, negotiated endorsement contracts, created standard form agency agreements, and successfully concluded two consumer protection disputes for a national advertising fund of one of the largest fast-food franchisors
  • Structured a nationwide state income and sales tax compliance plan for a 50-state vehicle rental franchisor


  • Chambers USA, Franchising, USA – Nationwide, 2019 − 2024
  • Who's Who Legal, International Who's Who of Franchise Lawyers
  • Franchise Times, Legal Eagle (attorneys selected)
  • The Best Lawyers in America, Lawyer of the Year, Franchise Law, Miami, 2011, 2018, 2021, 2023 (attorneys selected)