Product Distribution and Franchise
Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren’s Product Distribution and Franchise law team handles many types of matters concerning the supply and distribution of products and services on a national and international scale. Our unique, multidisciplinary team includes litigators and corporate attorneys who combine their experience from courtrooms and boardrooms to effectively serve clients facing supply chain and product distribution challenges. Working collaboratively, we develop solutions that are practical and cost-effective.
Our attorneys help remove complexity and mitigate risk for a wide range of businesses. We have deep experience advising clients about many types of contract and distribution matters, including:
- Buying and selling businesses
- Designing distribution networks
- Structuring licenses
- Creating sales and purchase documents
- Helping navigate complex state and federal regulations
- Counseling on Internet sales and other types of distribution
- Handling supply chain issues
- Advising on pricing laws and programs
We make it a point to understand our clients’ businesses and goals. This helps us to provide effective and practical advice. Our experience has enabled us to develop model sales documents, sales representative agreements, franchise agreements, dealer agreements, supply agreements, sales terms and conditions, warranties and other forms and policies designed to anticipate the kinds of problems companies have been forced to litigate.
Reinhart’s Product Distribution and Franchise attorneys provide advice to many types of businesses, including those in the agricultural, chemical, consumer good, food and beverage, material handling, industrial equipment, lawn and garden, outdoor power, marine, vehicle and recreational product industries.
Our goal is to help clients address potential challenges before problems arise. We regularly counsel clients about sales and marketing programs, dealer and franchise laws, trade secrets and other distribution issues to help proactively avoid problems. We work collaboratively and stay in constant communication with multiple practice areas, including Corporate Law and Litigation, to ensure a seamless handling of the case. Our Litigation team’s insight helps our Corporate attorneys prevent litigation. And our Corporate team members help our Litigation attorneys better understand transactions and other complex corporate issues.
But in the event of a dispute that does involve litigation, we bring our depth of experience litigating cases to bear for our clients to help resolve the matter efficiently and cost-effectively. We have represented clients throughout the world in all types of litigation, including mediations, arbitrations and trials.
Reinhart’s Product Distribution and Franchise group has significant experience in virtually every area of product distribution and franchise law, and frequently provides counsel on the following matters:
- Antitrust compliance and disputes
- Complex commercial disputes
- Dealer and distributor disputes
- Internet distribution issues
- Sales representative and agency laws
- Supply chain counseling
- Pricing and advertising law compliance
- Product recalls
- Contract negotiation, review and counseling
- Franchise law compliance, counseling and disclosures
- Software licensing and software development
- Termination and nonrenewal of business relationships
- Warranty disputes
- Wisconsin Fair Dealership Law and other dealer laws
- Franchise Disputes. A client paid more than $1 billion to purchase a competitor and unknowingly acquired a group of disgruntled franchisees who claimed the right to hundreds of millions of dollars of the client’s historical sales into their “exclusive” territories. Members of Reinhart’s Product Distribution and Franchise Team persuaded the Federal District Court to grant our client summary judgment rejecting the franchisees’ argument and avoiding a six-week jury trial.
- FTC and State Attorney General Investigations. Occasionally, the FTC will bring an investigation against a company concerning its distribution methods or proposed acquisitions. The Product Distribution and Franchise Team members have persuaded federal and state investigators and prosecutors to “close the books” without pursuing formal claims on several occasions. These had included federal antitrust investigations and investigations by state attorneys general.
- Dealer Network Consolidations. A client bought one of its major competitors and consolidated the two companies’ distribution networks. When a disappointed distributor sued, Reinhart’s Product Distribution and Franchise Team members successfully defended the consolidation from the first complaint in New Jersey State Court through the last appeal to the Eighth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, winning a judgment of no liability.
- Internet Distribution and Protection of Trademarks. Several retailers began misusing some of our client’s trademarks and engaged in “cybersquatting.” We were able to help the client stop the misuse of its trademarks and helped implement Internet marketing policies to help prevent problems in the future.
- Sales Representative Disputes. Reinhart represented one of the nation’s largest chocolate producers after a former sales representative claimed the exclusive right to all business in Mexico and sued in California alleging a laundry list of statutory, tort and contract violations. Team members won a no-liability decision for our client.
- Trade Secret Claims. After losing an important supply relationship with a Reinhart manufacturing client, a supplier alleged theft of its trade secrets, claimed $250 million in damages and hired as its counsel an attorney who had recently won a similar $100 million trade secret award against a major U.S. automobile manufacturer. Reinhart won a defense verdict rejecting all claims against its client.
- Warranty Disputes. One of the world’s largest crane manufacturers sued a Reinhart client, allegedly for supplying out-of-spec components that caused a recall of an entire fleet of construction equipment. Reinhart successfully defended the component supplier and ultimately won an attorney-fee award.
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.
Laura Brenner, chair of Reinhart’s Product Distribution and Franchise Team, has been elected to the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association’s Board of Directors.
Litigation shareholder Steve Bogart has been elected to Milwaukee Bar Association’s Board of Directors.
To preserve their image, some companies began putting “gag” clauses in their standardized sales terms that prohibited consumers from posting any negative reviews. When consumers described their bad experiences with products or services, often in online reviews, companies contacted them to remind them of the clauses, but Congress responded with an act gaging the gag clauses.
Two seafood packaging companies executives plead guilty for their roles in an alleged antitrust conspiracy to fix the price of tuna. This case and a recent ruling highlight the costly impact to individuals and corporations who are accused of being involved in antitrust conspiracies.
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.