NAVIGATE: Venture Capital | Intellectual Property Protection and Exploitation | Advertising, Packaging, Labeling, and Marketing | E-Commerce | Distribution, Supply and Co-Packing Arrangements | Transactions | Product Liability and Recalls | Litigation | Non-competition, Non-solicitation; Protection of Trade Secrets | Employment, Labor, and Benefits | Import/Export | Related Practices | Representative Clients
As a participant in the food and beverage industry, you have to look for every competitive advantage, including your legal services partner. Robinson+Cole understands your unique needs – we’ve worked with some of the most innovative and fastest growing companies in the field. Our experience helps us understand your legal needs - your requirements, your challenges, and your opportunities, regardless of your stage of development.
We know that your first priority is to focus your time and resources on growing your business. That’s where we come in. To provide you with the best client service possible, we immerse ourselves in all areas of the food and beverage industry. We take pride in developing close working relationships with producers, distributors, retailers, investors and other service providers to the industry – across-the-board collaborations that are critical to delivering legal analysis and solutions that fit your real-world needs, whether simple or complex.
Led by a dedicated team of lawyers, Robinson+Cole brings an innovative approach to helping businesses reach their full potential, while addressing the legal challenges that all consumer product companies face. Our food and beverage lawyers have extensive experience in the industry, regularly work with food and beverage companies of all sizes, consistently coordinate with applicable firm members and always provide direct access to partners at the firm. We believe the best way to successfully build your business is to focus on the key areas of development: protection, compliance, and growth.
Drawing upon our collective capabilities and breadth of experience, we are able to assist and advise our food and beverage clients in connection with all aspects of their businesses, including the following:
We understand the standards by which venture capitalists assess businesses, business plans and models, the types and terms of securities involved, and the dynamics of multi-investor groups and multiple series of equity. Our experience enables us to provide advice and insight to food and beverage clients as they grow their businesses and to investors in this space. Our lawyers are actively engaged with the start-up, emerging company, and venture capital communities, including the Angel Investor Forum, the Association for Corporate Growth, the Crossroads Venture Group, and the MIT Enterprise Forum.
Intellectual Property Protection and Exploitation
We advise clients regarding all aspects of branding – including selection, use, protection, enforcement, licensing and other means of exploitation. We help our clients implement strategies for selection of trademarks, protecting intellectual property through use and registration, securing intellectual property ownership and related rights and assisting on resolution of disputes regarding such rights with third parties and with relevant government agencies. We also help companies by proactively assisting in the identification of trade secrets and implementation of the programs designed to effectively and efficiently protect valuable trade secrets – such as recipes – as well as other forms of confidential and proprietary information. Our experience includes assistance with copyright protection related to packaging and advertising content and designs, including website components. We advise clients on all aspects of co-branding and brand licensing, including intellectual property controls, usage limitations, guaranteed revenue and royalty streams, and product liability and infringement risk allocation.
Advertising, Packaging, Labeling, and Marketing
We have considerable experience representing clients in connection with a review of marketing, labeling, and packaging from concept to market. This includes working with advertising agencies and product liability committees on matters of claim substantiation, comparative claims, testimonials, and compliance with applicable regulations and guidelines.
We advise on packaging, product labels, advertising (including broadcast, print, and electronic advertising), warranty and product disclosures, manuals, use instructions, and warnings for compliance with federal, state and industry regulatory standards and guidelines. Our attorneys work to stay aware of class action and watch dog group trends to help you anticipate trouble areas and make more informed decisions regarding the risk associated with use of certain claims or terms on your labels and in your advertising.
We also advise design and launch traditional, Internet, mobile, social media-based promotions, and marketing by e-mail and phone, including compliance with all applicable registration and disclosure rules. Our work includes assistance with launches of viral campaigns, sweepstakes and contests.
Our lawyers also have experience with music and talent agencies, and previous matters include clearance of music and other intellectual property rights underlying promotional materials, negotiate celebrity and other strategic advertising and television sponsorships, talent and endorsement agreements. We also aid clients in the licensing of their products and brands in various entertainment media.
We assist clients with establishing E-commerce business operations. We help with the documentation of all aspects of operating a store online, including terms governing site use, access agreements to secure areas of the site, co-branding, linking and framing agreements, website development agreements, keyword advertising, search optimization, and domain name selection and acquisition as well as resolution of any related disputes. Clients also seek our advice on privacy and data security compliance policies, procedures, and training.
Distribution, Supply and Co-Packing Arrangements
We advise clients regarding the commercial contract needs that they deal with on a daily basis and that form the backbone of their operations. These include sales agreements and purchase contracts, distribution agreements, terms and conditions of sale and/or supply, service and consulting agreements, sales representative agreements, licensing agreements, and nondisclosure agreements. Our practice includes helping companies structure and negotiate supply-chain agreements and co-packing agreements. Our technology attorneys help implement technology solutions for inventory, supply chain, billing and management of other key functions for your business.
We assist food and beverage companies with the full range of corporate transactions, including acquisitions, divestitures, joint venture and sale transactions. Our deal team collaborates closely with other lawyers in the firm to provide our clients with integrated and customized legal services. Based on the transaction, we may draw on the firm's experience in tax, real estate, regulatory compliance, employee benefits, intellectual property, licensing and supply, distribution, and manufacturing contracts to advise our clients.
Product Liability and Recalls
Our approach to product liability matters is proactive and comprehensive, incorporating both business and litigation considerations. Our process includes reviewing contract language and the relevant regulatory landscape, then evaluating whether contractual protections and legal compliance measures have been taken. When product concerns arise internally, we are able to assist with investigating the relevant issues and developing and executing a holistic remediation plan designed to avoid outside financial and reputational exposure to the company. This may involve corrective actions such as employee discipline, enhanced compliance procedures, product recalls, and communications with regulators and third parties, such as potential claimants. In the event that litigation or government intervention becomes unavoidable, we have extensive experience in successfully resolving product liability disputes, including class actions, in courts around the country.
We work with clients to minimize litigation risks, reduce dispute resolution costs, and preserve important business relationships. Our goal is to protect our clients’ rights while guiding their consideration of alternative dispute resolution, including mediation and arbitration when necessary. Robinson+Cole is known for having experienced and skilled trial attorneys. Our focus, preparation, responsiveness, and ability to vindicate your company’s rights at trial will serve your business interests well at every stage of the process.
Non-competition, Non-solicitation; Protection of Trade Secrets
We regularly advise clients about the drafting, negotiation, and enforcement of noncompetition and non-solicitation agreements and other restrictive covenants aimed at protecting their brands, trade secrets, and accumulated goodwill. We also advise companies concerning the hiring and employment of candidates who may have restrictive covenants with their former employers. When necessary, we aggressively litigate claims against former employees and others for misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of restrictive covenant agreements, and related claims.
Employment, Labor, and Benefits
We assist our clients in complying with the myriad employment laws affecting the industry, including those relating to hiring, compensation and equal pay, background checks, offer letters, wage and hour, gratuities and tip credits, discipline, whistleblowers, and termination. We negotiate and prepare executive employment agreements, incentive compensation plans, and other programs for senior management. We also advise on handbook and workplace policies and conduct audits to help ensure compliance with federal and state laws. We advise on union avoidance and negotiate collective bargaining agreements. And we advise on benefit plans, including health and welfare plans.
We provide advice and guidance regarding the creation and implementation of import/export compliance programs. Our experience includes preparation of practical checklists, compliance manuals for importing and/or exporting products and components, internal compliance training, and export/import awareness training.
As a multi-disciplinary law firm with a foot print of offices in key locations throughout the U.S. and a network of law firm relationships throughout the world, this summary of ways in which we can help your company is merely the tip of the iceberg. We welcome the opportunity to discuss with you how we can help you realize your vision by building value through a successful and lucrative food and beverage business.