66-97. Filing with Secretary of State.

(a) The seller of every business opportunity shall file with the Secretary of State two copies of the disclosure statement required by G.S. 66-95, accompanied by a fee in the amount of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) made payable to the Secretary of State, prior to placing any advertisement or making any other representations to prospective purchasers in this State. The seller shall update this filing as any material change in the required information occurs, but no less than annually.

(b) Every seller shall file, in such form as the Secretary of State may prescribe, an irrevocable consent appointing the Secretary of State or his successors in office to be his attorney to receive service of any lawful process in any noncriminal suit, action or proceeding against the seller or his successor, executor or administrator which arises under this Article after the consent has been filed, with the same force and validity as if served personally on the person filing the consent. Service may be made by leaving a copy of the process in the office of the Secretary of State, but is not effective unless (i) the plaintiff, who may be the Attorney General in a suit, action or proceeding instituted by him, forthwith sends notice of the service and a copy of the process by registered mail to the defendant or respondent at his address on file with the Secretary of State, and (ii) the plaintiff 's affidavit of compliance with this section is filed in the case on or before the return date of the process, if any, or within such further time as the court allows.

(c) If the seller of a business opportunity is required by G.S. 66-96 to provide a bond or establish a trust account, he shall file with the Secretary of State two copies of the bond or two copies of the formal notification by the depository that the trust account is established contemporaneously with compliance with subsections (a) or (d).

(d) The Secretary of State may accept the Uniform Franchise Offering Circular (UFOC) or the Federal Trade Commission Basic Disclosure Document, provided, that the alternative disclosure document shall be accompanied by a separate sheet setting forth the caption and statement and any other information required by G.S. 66-95.

(e) Failure to so file shall be a Class 1 misdemeanor. (1977, c. 884, s. 1; 1981, c. 817, s. 3; 1993, c. 539, s. 521; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 2003-284, s. 35B.3(a).)