Friday, December 23, 2005

Franchising Resources

Franchising law in Maryland is governed by Business Regulation Article 14-201 and applicable regulations at COMAR These laws largely take their lead from the federal regulation--enacted at 16 CFR 436 by the FTC in 1978--which imposes disclosure requirements on the sale of franchises. For an overview of the rule, see this summary from the FTC. The FTC rule requires the seller of a franchise to disclose to the prospective buyer basic information--arranged in a standardized form--about the franchise. The FTC has ruled that a franshisor can use either the FTC format or the more common Uniform Franchise Offering Circular (UFOC) format deleloped by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA). The UFOC format consists of a list of 23 disclosure items. For more background see "Franchising 101." Although the FTC rule requires disclosure to a potential franchise buyer, it doesn't require you to file the form with the FTC. As such, there's no database on the FTC website which affords you access to these documents. Moreover, even though Maryland does require the franchisor to file with the state, these documents are not online. The only online resource for these documents seems to be a vendor called sells UFOC's for typically around $220. If you don't need the info right this minute, though, you may be able to get it free from the Securities Division of the Maryland Attorney General's Office. If you're just interested in locating the franchise agreement (and not the UFOC) you might get lucky finding this online, simply by searching using a regular search engine like Google. (Thanks to Andy Zimmerman for getting me started on this).

Thursday, December 15, 2005

County Publications Checklist

Looking for a go-to source for all county level publications? Maxine Grosshans from Thurgood Marshall Law Library has done us all a service by collecting this information into a well organized website. For each county, the site provides info on how to access not only codes and zoning regulations, but other publications like the Subdivision and Land Development Regulations for Howard County, for example. If the resource is available online, a link is provided; if not, the site instructs you how to go about purchasing it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Office of Thrift Supervision

A little while ago, I did a post entitled "Researching Maryland Banks." In that post, we discussed using the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) as a research tool to research Maryland banks. The FFIEC is the overarching umbrella organization that provides oversight for a number of other institutions. One of those institutions is the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS). OTS is the primary body charged with regulating federally chartered and many state-chartered thrift institutions, including savings banks and savings and loan associations. While the OTS site doesn't provide the kind of detailed financial information found on the FFEIC's site, it does provide some useful information about Maryland banks. The "Corporate Directories" page allows you to search the institution directory for a Maryland bank. The directory provides contact information for the bank, name of its primary officer, and its total assets. The site also provides a "Related Organization Directory." You simply type in the name of your bank and the system lists the names of other organizations related to it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

New Treatise on MD Constitutional Law

Dan Friedman, an attorney at Saul Ewing, has recently authored a new treatise on Maryland Constitutional Law. Entitled The Maryland State Constitution: A Reference Guide, the treatise is the first full-length treatment of the topic since 1915. The treatise provides both a history of
Maryland's constitution and a section-by-section analysis of Maryland's current constitution. (Thanks to Stacey Digan for this information).

Friday, December 09, 2005

Updates To The Maryland Rules

The website of the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure provides information on updates to the Maryland Rules. The site posts both proposed rule changes and the final Rules Orders. In my mind, the content on this site would benefit greatly from some sort of update service (either through RSS or through an email sign-up which would update you when new content is posted). The folks at Lexis publish this same info in a pamphlet called Advance Court Rules Service. The only content which Lexis adds are editor's notes to each new rule, which can be helpful.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Google Search of MD Court Opinions

For those of you who hadn't yet noticed, the Maryland Judiciary added a nice feature to their search of court opinions: a Google search. Granted, this feature is not particularly well placed, but if you scroll down on the page, you'll see an option to search using Google. Previously, the site had only supported ranking search results by case docket number, party name, etc. Now, though, you can search the opinions full text. (Thanks to Jenny Smith and Jim Gernert for suggesting).

Monday, December 05, 2005

US Dept. of Industry And Security

Some of you may have seen a recent article in the Baltimore Business Journal. The article discusses how a Baltimore company, Bluefire Security Technologies, is being investigated by the US Dept. of Industry and Security. Housed within the Dept. of Commerce, the Dept. of Industry and Security is "responsible for implementing and enforcing the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which regulate the export and reexport of most commercial items." For an overview of export controls, see this page. For an overview of encription technologies specifically, see this page. For export regulations generally, the site has a link to another site put out by GPO. The site also has an overview of the major multilateral export agreements.