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Franchising refers to the methods of practicing and using another person's philosophy of business. The franchisor grants the independent operator the right to distribute its products, techniques, and trademarks for a percentage of gross monthly sales and a royalty fee. Various tangibles and intangibles such as national or international advertising, training, and other support services are commonly made available by the franchisor. Agreements typically last five to twenty years, with premature cancellations or terminations of most contracts bearing serious consequences for franchisees.

The term "franchising" is used to describe business systems which may or may not fall into the legal definition provided above. For example, a vending machine operator may receive a franchise for a particular kind of vending machine, including a trademark and a royalty, but no method of doing business. This is called "product franchising" or "trade name franchising".

A franchise agreement will usually specify the given territory the franchisee retains exclusive control over, as well as the extent to which the franchisee will be supported by the franchisor (e.g. training and marketing campaigns).

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