Food and Beverage
From labeling and ingredient issues, to food safety and recalls, to trademark protection, the challenges facing the food and beverage industry only continue to intensify. To meet these evolving needs, it is essential to have a strategic partner that can provide sound legal counsel on a wide range of business issues. At Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, our dedicated Food and Beverage attorneys illuminate the gray areas and deliver informed, creative solutions to companies that produce, distribute or sell food and beverages and related products.
Reinhart’s multidisciplinary Food and Beverage Practice helps navigate the regulatory and business landscape throughout the entire continuum of a product’s lifecycle – from growing, to manufacturing, to distributing, to retailing. We represent leading manufacturers, retailers, grocers, wholesalers, agricultural businesses, restaurants, wineries, breweries, importers, franchisors and entrepreneurs from across the industry.
Taking a holistic approach, our team of attorneys brings unmatched focus and experience to the complexities of food and beverage law. We have deep knowledge of the various legal issues food and beverage companies will face over the course of doing business. As a result, Reinhart’s Food and Beverage attorneys have the experience necessary to guide clients through the regulatory maze, keep them updated on trends and emerging issues, protect their hard-earned assets and minimize their risk and liability.
It is no secret that Wisconsin is a manufacturing powerhouse when it comes to food and beverage production and distribution, and Reinhart is proud to have provided counsel to some of the state’s most successful enterprises over the course of many decades. Food consistently ranks in the top three industry categories in the state for employment, and Wisconsin is regularly among the nation’s leading producers of beer, cheese, dairy and cranberries.
Today, Wisconsin is enjoying a booming wave of entrepreneurial activity that is helping set the stage for the next generation of innovative businesses. We are proud of this strong heritage and tradition of excellence in our state, and it is our mission to continue advocating for Wisconsin’s food and beverage companies while providing trusted legal counsel to the entire industry.
With an impressive track record of representing some of Wisconsin’s most prominent companies in the space, we are proud to support the industry through numerous affiliations and memberships, including:
- FaB Wisconsin
- Wisconsin Specialty Cheese Institute
- Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association
- Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce
- Wisconsin Brewers Guild
Reinhart’s Banking and Finance Practice works with food and beverage companies to find solutions to their financing needs perfectly matched to their unique situations, including:
- Working capital facilities
- Construction financing
- Acquisition financing
We routinely assist borrower clients in negotiating and documenting a wide variety of credit facilities with lenders, ranging from large commercial banks to farm credit lenders. We also frequently advise lender clients on transactions in the food and beverage industry.
Leveraging the established and respected reputation of our Real Estate Practice, we counsel food and beverage companies on all of their real estate needs, including:
- Acquisition and disposition of real estate
- Development and construction of manufacturing facilities
- Development and construction of local and national retail stores
We also frequently advise clients on the environmental aspects of these types of commercial and real estate transactions. We work with clients to obtain federal, state and local permits for new and existing facilities and advise clients on regulatory and permit compliance issues. We conduct environmental audits and help food and beverage clients develop and implement environmental compliance management systems. Reinhart Real Estate attorneys routinely assist food and beverage clients in obtaining required entitlements, including various zoning approvals for liquor sales and food, beverage and liquor licenses.
Reinhart’s experienced Litigation Practice helps food and beverage companies navigate regulatory requirements and avoid risk in the following areas:
- Food labeling and packaging compliance
- Food recalls and market withdrawals
- Product development
- Supply chain analysis
- Food safety, including good manufacturing practices
- Counseling to identify and eliminate potential product liability exposure
- Implications of the Food Safety Modernization Act
- Reporting requirements to the Reportable Food Registry
- Indemnity and insurance coverage
- Inspections of manufacturing facilities
Additionally, when regulatory enforcement actions arise and litigation is necessary, we successfully represent clients before the FDA, FTC, USDA and in litigation at the state and federal levels. As the prevalence of new ingredients and manufacturing techniques for food and beverage products has grown, and as consumer tastes have diversified rapidly over the years, the challenges facing food manufacturers have only intensified. Reinhart Food and Beverage attorneys represent a spectrum of clients – from start-ups to national and international companies – in product liability lawsuits and consumer class actions, including labeling and packaging compliance issues.
Reinhart’s Intellectual Property Practice works closely with food and beverage companies to identify and protect their brands and help them stand apart from their competitors. We help clients develop intellectual property strategies and programs, identify and perfect intellectual property rights and assert or defend those rights in court. We have significant experience with food and beverage industry technologies, including food science, biotechnology, chemistry, processing, packaging and inspection.
In the area of trademarks, we focus on all aspects of domestic and international trademark work, including counseling, trademark clearance, registration, licensing and enforcement. We assist food and beverage clients with advertising review, counseling and dispute management. And we have strong experience in the area of domain name disputes.
Reinhart’s patent attorneys work to understand the business objectives of our food and beverage clients and develop a cost-justified IP protection strategy. We are skilled at obtaining patent protection for and identifying potential infringement risk related to new product development. We also successfully prepare and prosecute patent applications with an eye toward both licensing and enforcement.
Reinhart’s Intellectual Property attorneys provide domestic and international patent preparation and prosecution services, patent portfolio development and management counseling, right-to-use analysis and counseling, as well as legal opinions concerning patent invalidity and non-infringement. We challenge and defend challenges to food and beverage companies’ patent validity before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, as well as in federal court.
Leveraging our well-established and robust Labor and Employment Practice, Reinhart attorneys regularly advise and defend food and beverage clients on a number of labor issues relevant to their business. We have considerable experience dealing with traditional labor issues and assisting clients with immigration matters, in addition to more specialized labor and employment matters. For example, we routinely and efficiently prepare and enforce noncompetition and confidentiality agreements, as well as defend clients against employment discrimination claims before state and federal agencies.
We frequently counsel food and beverage companies on compliance with state and federal wage and hour statutes, the ADA, FMLA and other state and federal employment law regulations. Reinhart’s Labor and Employment attorneys also provide consistent thought leadership to the marketplace on wage and hour issues, among other labor and employment matters, both to clients and non-clients. Lastly, our attorneys regularly counsel on labor issues related to protecting clients’ trade secrets.
With the depth of experience of Reinhart’s Corporate Law Practice, we serve as business advisors to retailers, distributors, manufacturers and other related food and beverage companies. We counsel companies on a wide array of matters relevant to maintaining and growing a thriving business. We assist companies in business sales and guide companies and their owners through the challenging issues presented in any merger, acquisition or disposition scenario. We also help identify the most effective capitalization strategy, whether through senior debt, mezzanine or equity financing.
Reinhart’s Corporate Law attorneys also help food and beverage companies identify their capital needs and the best structures for maximizing growth opportunities while minimizing ownership dilution. We help companies seek new technologies, innovative products and distributions through strategic partnership and joint ventures. We also assist clients in developing cost-effective, streamlined supply and purchase arrangements. Lastly, we counsel public food and beverage companies, their officers and directors on governance, compliance and public disclosures.
We understand that food and beverage marketing must comply with a complex and ever-changing regulatory environment, and Reinhart’s Advertising, Media and Entertainment Practice specializes in assisting food and beverage companies with a wide variety of advertising issues.
Our Advertising, Media and Entertainment attorneys draft, advise on and negotiate agreements related to marketing, media and licensing and promotional campaigns. We also provide strategic planning, compliance review and counsel for direct marketing campaigns, including email campaigns and interactive/viral advertising. Additionally, we initiate and defend claims of comparative advertising, false advertising, trade disparagement and claims substantiation on behalf of food and beverage companies.
Furthermore, Reinhart’s Advertising, Media and Entertainment Practice counsels food and beverage companies on the unique legal and practical challenges faced when interacting with the public through internet websites, email, social networks and other electronic media. We assist our clients with e-commerce, social media and privacy issues, ensuring they remain in compliance with privacy laws and proactively manage data security.
We also draft and negotiate software license and cloud computing arrangements, including agreements with software vendors and developers, software-as-service providers, web and application hosting providers, credit card payment processors and other e-commerce service providers. Our attorneys also counsel food and beverage companies on the intersection of social media with various areas of a business, from employment agreements to electronic discovery to advertising and brand protection. Lastly, we regularly conduct reviews and risk analyses of company websites and draft consumer-facing agreements and privacy policies.
U.S. News – Best Lawyers® highly ranks Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c. (Reinhart) in numerous practice areas within Wisconsin and nationally in the recently released 2017 “Best Law Firms” listings.
Reinhart’s Sarah Schenck was interviewed on radio station WUWM 89.7 regarding why craft brewers are increasingly concerned about water conservation and water quality issues. Sarah discussed those issues in more depth on a panel at this year’s Great Lakes Water Conservation Conference.
Reinhart Food and Beverage Practice Chair Jennifer Naeger has authored an article for Wisconsin Lawyer Magazine discussing how the latest trends in food and beverage law – including health-related labels, the rise of craft breweries and new food-safety laws – require the assistance of savvy counsel.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has issued a revised Form I‑9, Employment Eligibility Verification form (the “Revised Form I‑9”) that all U.S. employers must use beginning January 22, 2017 for all new hires on or after this date. The revisions are intended to reduce errors and allow for the pre‑filling of certain sections of the form electronically.
Reinhart hosted a CLE Series geared toward in-house counsel, but applicable to a variety of business professionals. The series included three days of complimentary seminars/webinars presented by Reinhart attorneys.
The new GMO labeling law requires mandatory disclosure of genetically modified organism (“GMO”) ingredients on food labels, preempting efforts by state and local governments to set their own standards. Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren’s Food and Beverage Team will continue to monitor the rulemaking process as the USDA further defines this national GMO disclosure standard and how it may affect your business.