The Ongoing Michigan Tesla Ban, and Franchise Laws in General

It seems that anyone or anything named “Tesla” is constantly going to run into problems with their competitors, their government – really, anyone but the actual consumers.

08-2012-tesla-model-s-fd-1347336762

Later last year, Michigan passed an amendment to their already pretty deep laws regarding business franchises preventing automotive dealers from selling directly to customers. Michigan law right now requires that all vehicles be sold through franchised dealerships and allows those dealerships to independently determine what fees are charged to the customer during the process.

This new bill both prohibited the creation of company-owned automobile “stores” and further prevented the manufacturers from dictating the sort of fees that can be charged. Surprise surprise, the only automobile company that doesn’t really play by that model right now is Tesla.

For reference, Michigan defines a “franchise” as having these three elements:

-A marketing plan wherein the franchise is granted the right to distribute goods under a marketing plan or system designed and administered by the franchisor company
Association with trademark meaning the franchisee’s business is associated with trademarks of the parent company (logos, service marks, etc)
Required fee, which is exactly as it sounds!

However, a handful of states such as Minnesota include additional terms, including one that has proven pretty sticky in a lot of business matters: community of interest, generally defined as the franchisor and franchisee having a mutual interest and stake in the selling and production of the franchise’s goods. One would be hard pressed to find a franchisee/franchisor relationship that doesn’t match that criteria, but is Gov. Snyder attempting to create that sort of provision for car dealerships? By maintaining that automobiles still cannot be sold directly from the manufacturer, he almost seems to be creating that community externally by ensuring all dealerships have to be independent but beholden to a parent company.

And while car dealerships are allowed to dictate what fees they charge, I would like to go back to the required fee provision. Tesla retailers presumably don’t have that sort of fee structure as they operate more like locations in a grocery store chain and less like an independent vendor, and it’s not likely that they have room in their business plan to include one to skirt this rule. Strange that, of all the reasons to prevent a business from operating in your state, these are the two that they seem to have chosen.

Staying informed of your rights and abilities as a franchise owner (or as a company that operates through franches) is vital. Vinson Franchise Law is a good place to start.

Advertisements
The Ongoing Michigan Tesla Ban, and Franchise Laws in General

Michigan Real Estate Law Changes

Hello world! My name is Eric Patrick, I’m a law student in Michigan and I’ve decided to begin publishing a blog during my studies of recent Michigan law issues and my stance on the matters. I will admit this was partially inspired by the Arrested Development joke involving a lawyer character named Bob Loblaw running a Law Blog – but I fear mine won’t be nearly as funny.

Bob_Loblaw_Humor

Anyway, with that done, on to business. As a burgeoning student of Property Law, it came to my attention that in the tail end of last year (December 29 – cutting it awfully close, wouldn’t you say?) a Legislative Update was passed that affected real estate investors and their ability to buy property at the time of (or shortly after) foreclosure.

Now before we proceed I would like to make clear that the idea of buying foreclosed property tends to be a pretty emotional process – that was someone’s house, after all. But the fact remains that plenty of people look for ways to monetize foreclosed property – or in this case, prevent its sale.

Previous Michigan law allowed homeowners the right to a “quitclaim deed” that would allow them to quickly transfer ownership of their property to a third party, thus allowing that third party to manage the sale during something like a tax sale, divorce filing, or property foreclosure. (More information on quitclaims can be found here) Often times, an investor would look for homes that are soon to be foreclosed on and offer a quitclaim deed in exchange for a sum of money, thus allowing them to get the house more cheaply than buying it at auction and preventing any other investors from staking a claim to the property.

The new Michigan legislation requires the deeds to be properly recorded and filed away prior to redemption. Sounds a little obvious, right? Under the previous laws there was no way of verifying a quitclaim deed prior to sale, which stymied many property investors as the burden was on them to try to retain the house, not on the claimee to prove they have right to the property.

Not a huge change, but perhaps a more fair one in the world of real estate. People still have the ability to file quitclaims on property they’re in danger of losing, but now it just requires that the claims are documented a little better.

For more insight on the ruling, check out Jeshua Lauka’s post, or if you’re feeling especially crunchy you can read the actual legislation here.

Michigan Real Estate Law Changes