Franchising is the practice of using another firm's successful business model. The word 'franchise' is of anglo-french derivation - from franc- meaning free, and is used both as a noun and as a (transitive) verb.
However, except in the US, and now in China (2007) where there are explicit Federal (and in the US, State) laws covering franchise, most of the world recognizes 'franchise' but rarely makes legal provisions for it. Only Australia, various provinces within Canada, France and Brazil have significant Disclosure laws but Brazil regulates franchises more closely.
Where there is no specific law, franchise is considered a distribution system, whose laws apply, with the trademark (of the franchise system) covered by specific covenants.