Foerster, Inc. v. Atlas Metal Parts Co

In Foerster, Inc. v. Atlas Metal Parts Co., 105 Wis. 2d 17, 313 N.W.2d 60 (1981), the company, Foerster, attempted to recover under the Wisconsin Fair Dealership Law (WFDL) after Atlas terminated their longstanding sales agreement. The Court concluded that Foerster was a manufacturer's representative, and that manufacturer's representatives are not covered under the law. The supreme court observed: "The description of the businesses which the Fair Dealership Law was intended to cover indicates that the law was meant to protect only those small businessmen who make a substantial financial investment in inventory, physical facilities or "good will" as part of their association with the grantor of the dealership and is, thus, consistent with common or accepted perceptions of the words franchise or dealership. It is these types of businesses whose economic livelihood would be imperiled by the termination of their dealership without good cause and adequate notice. None of the businesses mentioned in this description resembles the type of manufacturer's representative business involved in this case." (Foerster, 105 Wis. 2d at 24.) The case established that certain business conditions are frequently present in businesses covered by the law. These conditions include businesses that have made a substantial financial investment in inventory, physical facilities or "good will," as well as businesses that have a right to sell the goods and services of the manufacturer; that have the right to use a trade name, trademark, service mark, logotype, advertising or other commercial symbol; that devote a substantial portion of the business to the promotion of the manufacturer's products; and that are economically dependent on the relationship with the manufacturer. See id. at 24-25.