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Goodwin Successfully Defends Pepperidge Farm in Long-Running Franchise Case

12.18.12

Goodwin litigation attorneys recently secured a significant victory for client Pepperidge Farm following a three-day bench trial before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. The ruling in favor of Pepperidge Farm ended an eight-year-old case brought by two former distributors.

At trial, the plaintiffs contended that Pepperidge Farm was an unregistered franchisor under Washington’s Franchise Investment Protection Act (“FIPA”). In connection with their FIPA claims, the plaintiffs sought actual and exemplary damages and attorneys’ fees.

The court found for Pepperidge Farm on every element of the FIPA claim: the plaintiffs’ distributorships were not franchises because the plaintiffs did not operate under a marketing plan, their distributorships were not substantially associated with Pepperidge Farm’s name or trademark, and the plaintiffs paid no franchise fee.  The court dismissed the plaintiffs’ FIPA claims with prejudice and ordered Pepperidge Farm to file a motion to recover its attorneys’ fees and costs under FIPA.

Goodwin litigation partner Forrest Hainline tried the case, with assistance from Robert Bader.