In February, video of a rat infestation at a South Texas Burger King went viral on social media. Now, Burger King is suing the franchisee to remove its trademark from 37 locations across South Texas.
Kat Tidd, a Dallas-based attorney specializing in franchise law, says the move is unusual, although not unwarranted.
“Franchisors do not lightly terminate a franchisee,” Tidd says. “But the franchisor has a duty to protect its name.”
The lawsuit, filed on March 22 against Fritz Management LLC, would force the firm to remove all Burger King trademarks and products from its locations. The document cites multiple failed health inspections in addition to the rat incident.
Tidd says the social media era has changed the relationship between franchisors and their clients.
“The damage can go faster further,” Tidd says. “It’s very difficult to get to the facts on something that’s viral. So, what’s a franchisor going to do? They have to act aggressively to protect the integrity of their image and their brand and their reputation, especially when food is concerned.”
Written by Sol Chase.