“Back off, man. I'm a franchisor.”

Raymond Stantz, Ph.D.
Egon Spengler, Ph.D.
Peter Venkman, Ph.D.
14 N. Moore Street
New York, New York 10013


Drs. Stantz, Spengler, and Venkman,

It was a pleasure to meet with you to discuss your interest in finally converting your successful closely-held corporation into a franchise system. (You say you’re ready to turn the business of professional paranormal investigations and eliminations over to the next generation, and I’m ready to believe you...!) I have reviewed the material you provided (including both remastered recordings of certain important weeks in the early history of the company, in 1984 and 1989 respectively, which I confess evoked in me some nostalgia). Notwithstanding that I am primarily engaged in the practice of tax law, performing some probate work on occasion, I have prepared this brief letter memorandum to advise you of certain aspects of the process of franchising that might be of particular relevance to you.

At the outset, what you have described as your intended plan—to grant others the right to engage in the business of selling services (to wit: the “busting” of ghosts) under a marketing system prescribed by Ghostbusters, Inc., including the use of the marks and logotypes of Ghostbusters, Inc., in return for fees—unquestionably constitutes the establishment of a franchise system under the law. Accordingly, you will be required to file with the Federal Trade Commission—before you may offer any Ghostbusters franchise for sale—a comprehensive disclosure document, which you will also have to provide to any prospective franchisee. The purpose of these pre-sale disclosures is to protect the public from unscrupulous persons who might regard the sale of franchises as a sort of “dodge” or “hustle.”

The applicable federal regulations require nearly two dozen different categories of disclosure, a handful of which warrant mention now:

You will have to set forth (as Item 3 of 23, for instance) information regarding lawsuits involving Ghostbusters, Inc. This will include the company’s being sued in 1985-6 by every city, county, and state agency in New York and being prohibited, by judicial restraining order (subsequently lifted), from investigating the supernatural.

In Item 8, you will need to state any restrictions on the sources for equipment that a franchisee must use (such as whether uniforms or unlicensed nuclear accelerators must be purchased from specific approved vendors only).

Items 13 and 14 address a franchisor’s intellectual property. Among other things, you will need to be clear about which “no-ghost” logo is to be used by a franchisee and when. Presumably, Ghostbusters, Inc. holds patents to various devices, including but not limited to positron colliders, PKE meters, ecto-goggles, Ghost Sniffers, slime blowers, handheld traps, and large-scale indefinite-term containment units; you will need to list these. And you will also have to address that unfortunate circumstance involving your original theme song having been ripped off from Huey Lewis.

You will have to disclose, in Item 18, certain information concerning the involvement with the franchise system of any public figure, living or dead, such as Bobby Brown or the ghost of John Belushi.

Besides the many things you are required to tell prospective franchisees, there are also things you may not tell them. It should suffice (for the time being) for me to advise you simply that you must be honest, forthcoming, and transparent when you make any representation to someone to whom you might sell a Ghostbusters, Inc. franchise. For instance, if an interested party were to ask Dr. Stantz, for example, if he is a god, Dr. Stantz would not be permitted to say, “Yes.” Likewise, Dr. Venkman, if someone asks if you’re the Keymaster.

There is much more to bear in mind... but franchising is nothing to be afraid of. Certainly the prospect should not terrify you beyond the capacity for rational thought, Dr. Spengler. And if all goes well, indeed “the franchise rights [to Ghostbusters, Inc. ] alone will make [you] rich beyond [y]our wildest dreams”—as Dr. Venkman commented to Dr. Stantz some 27 years ago (emphasis added).

Please do not hesitate to call me with any questions. Meanwhile, I will look forward to receiving the additional materials I need from your corporate secretary (and my ex-wife), Ms. Melnitz.

Very truly yours,

Louis Tully, Esq., C.P.A.

Matthew David Brozik wrote this and many other short humor pieces, which have been published in print and online by The New Yorker, Adult Swim, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Grin & Tonic, The Big Jewel, and no one.

Read more humor here. Or read some fiction here.