Ice cream truck franchising company, Mister Softee Inc., recently filed suit against a former franchisee claiming trademark infringement and unfair competition. The company claimed that although Mister Softee ended its franchising and license agreements with the licensee, he continued to operate his New Jersey ice cream businesses using the Mister Softee trademarks, as well as an iconic jingle. The continued use, according to the licensor, was in violation of provisions in the license agreements requiring the licensee to cease use of all of Mister Softee’s marks and jingle upon termination. The court eventually found in Mister Softee’s favor as the licensor.
This case illustrates the types of problems that licensors can encounter when terminating a licensing or franchising relationship. It serves as a reminder that safeguards regarding intellectual property and proper termination provisions should be considered when creating a licensing relationship.