Franchise, Distribution and Marketing Litigation
Practice Leader: A. Christopher Young
Pepper Hamilton LLP has a wide range of experience in assisting companies in managing the many challenges that arise in a franchise or distribution relationship.
We have represented clients in dealer termination cases, Robinson-Patman (price discrimination) cases, claims under Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, litigation involving the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (PMPA), bad faith pricing claims arising under UCC 2 305, common law fraud and breach of contract actions, and federal trademark infringement arising under the Lanham Act.
Our practice covers a range of industries, including petroleum refiners and marketers, truck and automobile manufacturers, electronic and automotive parts manufacturers, building products, medical device and heavy equipment manufacturers. We are equally comfortable litigating in federal or state courts.
In addition to litigation, we regularly counsel clients on dealer terminations, antitrust concerns, establishment of dealer networks, drafting distribution agreements and plans, and compliance reviews.
Representative engagements include:
- defending a petroleum refiner and marketer against bad faith pricing claims brought by 12 franchisees who also seek to represent a nationwide class of franchisees
- defending a major truck manufacturer against a lawsuit brought by a distributor for alleged violations of the Robinson-Patman Act, the Sherman Act, and Michigan and Ohio franchise acts, and prosecution of counterclaims in the same case for trade secret theft and copyright infringement
- representation of national pizza franchisor in mass action by franchisees challenging practices requiring purchase of ingredients and supplies from franchisor
- defending a medical device manufacturer in distributor termination litigation
- defending a petroleum refiner and marketer against a claim that its offer of sale of the marketing premises to the franchisee violated the PMPA
- representation of the world’s largest heavy-duty truck manufacturer against claims of fraud, breach of contract and allegations of violations of the Robinson-Patman Act, the Dealer Day in Court Act and Pennsylvania’s Board of Vehicles Act
- defending a major truck manufacturer in a protest action before the Ohio Motor Vehicle Dealer Board challenging a dealer termination
- defending a major automobile parts wholesaler against claims brought by competing wholesalers under the Robinson-Patman Act
- advising a petroleum refiner and marketer about its litigation options in defending state law claims of bad faith pricing and common law breach of the implied covenant of good faith
- successfully defending a TRO action in New Jersey against terminated distributor of a non-chemical, enzyme-based turf enhancer used by golf courses and private and public parks
- defending an Italian wine company in distributor termination litigation
- seeking an injunction on behalf of a petroleum refiner and marketer to eject a hold over franchisee and to stop it from doing business under the franchisor’s trade name and marks
- seeking unamortized consideration and liquidated damages against a number of franchisees for their early termination of their franchise and supply agreements
- prosecuting claims under the New Jersey Franchise Practices Act (NJFPA) by a distributor against a major automobile and automobile parts manufacturer
- defending a former franchisee in non-compete action brought by former franchisor
- counseling Japanese automobile manufacturer regarding U.S. law on a variety of issues and the scope of any limitations imposed by its dealer agreements and system on the client’s proposed a new vehicle introduction
- undertaking an internal compliance review for a Fortune 100, multi-national conglomerate’s U.S. and European operations, including Robinson-Patman issues
- advising a Fortune 500 computer manufacturer regarding distribution agreements and design of their distribution system
- designing and implementing policies regarding resale pricing, advertising programs, Internet resale, territorial and other restrictions
- drafting distribution agreements for a nonprofit book publisher.