We bring a constructive and imaginative outlook to food and beverage business transactions and believe that clients require solutions, not just legal analysis of their business challenges. Our collaborative approach provides a complete understanding of the legal, commercial, intellectual property and technology, food safety, regulatory, and human resources requirements under which these industries and their members operate. We deliver a full range of legal services to food and beverage companies.
Despite the current environment, the entrepreneurial spirit continues to thrive with the creation of new food and beverage companies like Health Nutz (natural and flavored cashews), evol burritos (natural and organic burritos), Divvies (nut-free, egg-free, and dairy-free cookies and other products), and Bridgetown Natural Foods (third-party manufacturer of ready-to-eat foods). Further, we believe that existing food and beverage businesses will continue to consolidate. Our firm is well positioned to assist our clients in such endeavors, whether helping them to establish a new company or representing them when they are buyers or sellers of businesses.
Our practice area capabilities specific to clients in the food and beverage industry follow:
Our corporate lawyers regularly handle stock and asset acquisitions, mergers, joint ventures, strategic alliances, and financings for public and private companies, including those in the food and beverage industry. Our work ranges from representing start-up companies in early round angel and venture capital financings to bolt-on acquisitions and the ultimate sale of companies. We also represent multinational corporations in complex multijurisdictional transactions. Our practice includes assisting companies in structuring and negotiating co-packing, distributor, vendor, and other supply-chain agreements. We have represented several well-known food companies in their ultimate sales to Fortune 500 companies.
We advise clients regarding branding strategy, including obtaining trademark and copyright protection and registration procurement, intellectual property audits, ownership and rights disputes, responding to office actions, interparty proceedings before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, and assignment and licensing issues, as well as regarding domestic and international brand development strategies. We regularly advise clients on promotional activities, including advertising, sponsorships, endorsements, sweepstakes, and contests. Our attorneys analyze and structure the transfer of intellectual property in acquisitions, joint ventures, and financing arrangements. We also assist food and beverage clients in establishing their Internet business operations, including terms and conditions, technology agreements, and privacy law compliance.
Robinson & Cole’s antitrust and trade regulation lawyers have significant experience advising clients on compliance with federal and state antitrust, regulatory, and consumer protection laws covering the food production and distribution industry. Our antitrust and trade regulation team supports our corporate lawyers in any acquisition and divestiture to comply with Hart-Scott-Rodino and comparable foreign competition law requirements. We also regularly advise clients on pricing policies, such as minimum-advertised price policies, and assist in their implementation and enforcement.
Robinson & Cole’s environment, health, and safety lawyers closely follow emerging regulatory developments while maintaining a breadth and depth of experience in federal and state laws covering air, water, waste, worker health, and security, all of which affect the food production and distribution industry.
We are one of the few full-service firms in the Northeast that provides traditional labor relations, employment benefits and compensation, and immigration services. Our labor lawyers are experienced in collective bargaining, grievance arbitration, practice before the National Labor Relations Board, and developiment of union-free programs. Our benefits and compensation lawyers regularly advise entities in day-to-day and sophisticated employee benefits matters, including executive agreements and advice with respect to multiemployer plans and withdrawal liability. Our workplace lawyers are familiar with resolving complicated labor and benefits issues that arise in transactions involving unionized companies. We aspire to limit our clients’ exposure in these areas through day-to-day counseling and by developing in-house training programs on topics such as workplace violence, wage and hour, the interaction of federal and state employment regulatory programs, and the effect of noncompetition agreements and conflict of interest policies. Further, we assist clients with the interpretation of employee benefits plans and the requirements of COBRA, ERISA, FLSA, FMLA, ADA, ADEA, and HIPAA. Our employment litigation attorneys defend our food and beverage clients before administrative agencies and in court.
Our unique mix of real estate lawyers and paralegals, land use planners, and environmental analysts provides our clients with quick regulatory audits of properties and general real estate counseling in connection with project development, land use permitting, real estate financing, conveyancing, and leasing of facilities for the production and distribution of food and beverage products, including restaurant operations and other retail facilities. In addition, Robinson & Cole has significant experience in tax-advantaged transactions, public/private ventures, and sale-leaseback transactions. For example, we are national real estate counsel for several leading food and beverage clients on issues involving headquarter offices, regional offices, and distribution centers.
Our Products Liability Group is knowledgeable about food safety laws and has experience dealing with the FDA on many issues, including product recalls. Most recently, we advised food and beverage clients in the recalls of peanuts, peanut-based products, pistachios, and pet food products.
We handle claims of manufacturing or design defects with respect to food equipment and claims involving strict liability, breach of warranty, and failure to warn. Many of our self-insured clients retain us to act as their national coordinating counsel.
Our attorneys have extensive experience in dealership termination cases involving franchise claims, representing dealers, distributors, and manufacturers in diverse industries such as automotive, insurance, food service, and manufacturing. Robinson & Cole also successfully litigated the landmark franchise case in Connecticut, Allen Bradley Co. v. Hartford Electric Supply Co., 250 Conn. 334 (1999), in which the Connecticut Supreme Court affirmed our client’s claim it was a franchise and could not be terminated without just cause.
Putting our knowledge and experience together, our team can help food and beverage clients navigate the evolving and volatile legal and business challenges in the following areas: