Franchise law is complicated. According to the Maryland Attorney General, Maryland is one of about 15 states that requires "registration" of franchise offerings.
What is a franchise? Maryland Annotated Business Regulation Code, Section 14-201 defines it as follows:
(1) "Franchise" means an expressed or implied, oral or written agreement in which:
(i) a purchaser is granted the right to engage in the business of offering, selling, or distributing goods or services under a marketing plan or system prescribed in substantial part by the franchisor;
(ii) the operation of the business under the marketing plan or system is associated substantially with the trademark, service mark, trade name, logotype, advertising, or
other commercial symbol that designates the franchisor or its affiliate; and
(iii) the purchaser must pay, directly or indirectly, a franchise fee.
(2) "Franchise" includes an area franchise.
"Franchisor" means the person offering to sell a franchise. The term "franchisee" means the person buying a franchise.
There are many laws and regulations in effect to require fair dealing and full disclosure regarding proposed franchise sales and purchases. In addition to the laws governing franchises set forth above, there are many regulations that you must comply with under Maryland's Code of Regulations ("COMAR"). Currently, these regulations are set forth in over 116 pages and can be found at http://www.oag.state.md.us/securities/SecuritiesAct.pdf. For more information, see the following links from the Maryland Attorney General's Office:
A Franchisor also has to comply with Federal laws and regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.
As if selling or buying a franchise isn't complicated enough, there are many potential issues that can come up including: registration, renewal, advertising, civil enforcement, criminal penalties, record keeping, liability and releases, false or misleading prospective information or statements, material changes and notice requirements, registration, escrow requirements, disclosure forms, and other financial and legal issues.
Given the complexity of franchise law, it's wise to hire a knowledgeable attorney to assist you, whether you plan on buying or selling a franchise.