Franchising - from the French for 'Free' franchising is a method of doing business wherein a franchisor licenses trademarks and methods of doing business in exchange for a recurring royalty fee.
The term is commonly used to describe a wide variety of business relationships which may or may not fall into the legal definition provided above. For example, a vending machine operator may recieve a franchise for a particular kind of vending machine, including a trademark and a royalty but no method of doing business.
In the US franchising falls under the jurisdiction of a number of state and federal laws. Contrary to whatr might be expected, there is no federal registry of franchising or any federal filing requirements for information. Instead, states primarily collect data on franchising companies and enforce laws and regulations regarding their spread.