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In this competitive and evolving business environment, companies constantly evaluate how to expand the distribution channels for their products and services. These distribution channels can include businesses operated by third parties under any one of a number of traditional legal structures: dealerships or distributorships, sales representatives or agents, brokers, joint ventures, consulting arrangements, and other creative relationships. Under these arrangements, the third-party may be identified as an independent contractor or an agent. When the legal arrangement includes a “brand,” in all likelihood there will be some sort of right to use the company’s trademark or service mark. In these cases you need to first consider whether the arrangement may be a “franchise,” which means that the arrangement is subject to specific requirements of state and federal laws.