The FTC’s new Business Opportunity Rule took effect on March 1, 2012. Companies currently adhering to the Interim Business Opportunity Rule should switch over to the new disclosure format immediately. Although the new rule reduces the seller’s disclosure obligations (from 20 items to 5 items), the rule applies to more businesses than ever. The new rule has expanded coverage to work-at-home businesses and other new enterprises covered under the interim rule. Franchisors currently subject to the FTC Franchise Rule are exempt from compliance.
Under the new rule, a “business opportunity” is any commercial arrangement where the seller solicits prospective purchasers; purchasers are required to make a payment to obtain the business opportunity; and the seller represents that assistance will be provided regarding locations, accounts/customers, or with the repurchase of goods the purchaser makes. On the new disclosure form, sellers must provide disclosures regarding: seller information; earnings claims; legal actions; cancellations or refunds; and a list of purchasers.
Sellers should remember that they may have to comply with state laws in addition to FTC rules. 26 states, including Nebraska, require similar disclosures by business opportunity sellers. Sellers operating in these states will not only have to file disclosure documents with the FTC, but will have to make the state-required disclosures as well.
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