16 CFR § 436.1 - Definitions.

§ 436.1 Definitions.

Unless stated otherwise, the following definitions apply throughout part 436:

(a) Action includes complaints, cross claims, counterclaims, and third-party complaints in a judicial action or proceeding, and their equivalents in an administrative action or arbitration.

(b) Affiliate means an entity controlled by, controlling, or under common control with, another entity.

(c) Confidentiality clause means any contract, order, or settlement provision that directly or indirectly restricts a current or former franchisee from discussing his or her personal experience as a franchisee in the franchisor's system with any prospective franchisee. It does not include clauses that protect franchisor's trademarks or other proprietary information.

(d) Disclose, state, describe, and list each mean to present all material facts accurately, clearly, concisely, and legibly in plain English.

(e) Financial performance representation means any representation, including any oral, written, or visual representation, to a prospective franchisee, including a representation in the general media, that states, expressly or by implication, a specific level or range of actual or potential sales, income, gross profits, or net profits. The term includes a chart, table, or mathematical calculation that shows possible results based on a combination of variables.

(f) Fiscal year refers to the franchisor's fiscal year.

(g) Fractional franchise means a franchise relationship that satisfies the following criteria when the relationship is created:

(1) The franchisee, any of the franchisee's current directors or officers, or any current directors or officers of a parent or affiliate, has more than two years of experience in the same type of business; and

(2) The parties have a reasonable basis to anticipate that the sales arising from the relationship will not exceed 20% of the franchisee's total dollar volume in sales during the first year of operation.

(h) Franchise means any continuing commercial relationship or arrangement, whatever it may be called, in which the terms of the offer or contract specify, or the franchise seller promises or represents, orally or in writing, that:

(1) The franchisee will obtain the right to operate a business that is identified or associated with the franchisor's trademark, or to offer, sell, or distribute goods, services, or commodities that are identified or associated with the franchisor's trademark;

(2) The franchisor will exert or has authority to exert a significant degree of control over the franchisee's method of operation, or provide significant assistance in the franchisee's method of operation; and

(3) As a condition of obtaining or commencing operation of the franchise, the franchisee makes a required payment or commits to make a required payment to the franchisor or its affiliate.

(i) Franchisee means any person who is granted a franchise.

(j) Franchise seller means a person that offers for sale, sells, or arranges for the sale of a franchise. It includes the franchisor and the franchisor's employees, representatives, agents, subfranchisors, and third-party brokers who are involved in franchise sales activities. It does not include existing franchisees who sell only their own outlet and who are otherwise not engaged in franchise sales on behalf of the franchisor.

(k) Franchisor means any person who grants a franchise and participates in the franchise relationship. Unless otherwise stated, it includes sub franchisors. For purposes of this definition, a “subfranchisor” means a person who functions as a franchisor by engaging in both pre-sale activities and post-sale performance.

(l) Leased department means an arrangement whereby a retailer licenses or otherwise permits a seller to conduct >business from the retailer's location where the seller purchases no goods, services, or commodities directly or indirectly from the retailer, a person the retailer requires the seller to do business with, or a retailer-affiliate if the retailer advises the seller to do business with the affiliate.

(m) Parent means an entity that controls another entity directly, or indirectly through one or more subsidiaries.

(n) Person means any individual, group, association, limited or general partnership, corporation, or any other entity.

(o) Plain English means the organization of information and language usage understandable by a person unfamiliar with the franchise business. It incorporates short sentences; definite, concrete, everyday language; active voice; and tabular presentation of information, where possible. It avoids legal jargon, highly technical business terms, and multiple negatives.

(p) Predecessor means a person from whom the franchisor acquired, directly or indirectly, the major portion of the franchisor's assets.

(q) Principal business address means the street address of a person's home office in the United States. A principal business address cannot be a post office box or private mail drop.

(r) Prospective franchisee means any person (including any agent, representative, or employee) who approaches or is approached by a franchise seller to discuss the possible establishment of a franchise relationship.

(s) Required payment means all consideration that the franchisee must pay to the franchisor or an affiliate, either by contract or by practical necessity, as a condition of obtaining or commencing operation of the franchise. A required payment does not include payments for the purchase of reasonable amounts of inventory at bona fide wholesale prices for resale or lease.

(t) Sale of a franchise includes an agreement whereby a person obtains a franchise from a franchise seller for value by purchase, license, or otherwise. It does not include extending or renewing an existing franchise agreement where there has been no interruption in the franchisee's operation of the business, unless the new agreement contains terms and conditions that differ materially from the original agreement. It also does not include the transfer of a franchise by an existing franchisee where the franchisor has had no significant involvement with the prospective transferee. A franchisor's approval or disapproval of a transfer alone is not deemed to be significant involvement.

(u) Signature means a person's affirmative step to authenticate his or her identity. It includes a person's handwritten signature, as well as a person's use of security codes, passwords, electronic signatures, and similar devices to authenticate his or her identity.

(v) Trademark includes trademarks, service marks, names, logos, and other commercial symbols.

(w) Written or in writing means any document or information in printed form or in any form capable of being preserved in tangible form and read. It includes: type-set, word processed, or handwritten document; information on computer disk or CD-ROM; information sent via email; or information posted on the Internet. It does not include mere oral statements.