Sunday, Aug 25, 2019

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Renea Morris, Executive Director of University Communications and Marketing

Photo courtesy of: University Communications and Marketing

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Branding OHIO through trademark licensing

As a follow up to a previous article about the importance of trademarks, the following information, provided in a question and answer format, gives a little more specifics about how to obtain permission to sell licensed merchandise, how to recognize an official licensed product as well as examples of the type of products that can and cannot be licensed.

1. What is a trademark?
As defined by the U.S. Patents & Trademarks Office, “a trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.”

2. What is a trademark license?
A license is a written agreement between the owner of the trademark (licensor) and a manufacturer/ vendor (licensee). The licensor grants permission to the licensee to affix the licensor’s trademark(s) on a product(s).
3. Who must be licensed?
Anyone or any business/organization wishing to use the University’s trademarks or verbiage on a product must have a license before offering the product/goods for sale. This also includes sale to University departments, campus organizations and student recognized organizations. Promotions and advertising are included as well.

4. How do I become licensed?
Contact OHIO’s licensing agency:

Licensing Resource Group
442 Century Lane, Suite 100
Holland, MI 49423
Phone: 616-395-0676
Fax: 616-395-2517

If you prefer the Internet, you may review the LRG website at www.lrgusa.com. A copy of the licensing application can be downloaded and printed from the website.

5. How does licensing a vendor benefit the University?
In addition to protecting the University from product liability, the use of licensed vendors helps to ensure that the Ohio University name is not used improperly, or on unsafe products. Furthermore, licensed vendors are required to join the Fair Labor Association, which monitors overseas factories.

6. What types of companies are licensed?
The University holds trademark licenses with a wide range of companies. A sampling includes Russell, Under Armour, Nike and Adidas, advertising specialty companies, and local stores located near campus.

7. What if my item is a publication or brochure that I wish to use the University’s trademarks on?
University trademarks may not be used on publications, brochures, advertising or other print material without permission from the University.

8. Why do the symbols ® and TM sometimes appear on products with the name Ohio University or University logos?
 The registration and trademark symbols signify ownership of a trademark. The TM symbol indicates that the word, symbol, or design it is placed next to is a trademark. The ® symbol indicates that the trademark is federally registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. These symbols signal the University’s ownership of its trademarks and assist the University in its trademark enforcement efforts.

9. Can I use the official Ohio University seal for my promotion?
No. The University seal is typically used for official documents, such as diplomas and letters of introduction. Permission is required to use the seal on any product.

10. Why is liability a concern when distributing promotional items and giveaways?
If a product with the University’s name or logo causes damage or injury, the University could be held responsible. The trademark licensing agreement that is signed by licensed vendors helps to protect the University by transferring product liability to the vendor. Moreover, licensed vendors are required to carry product liability insurance.

11. What kinds of products cannot be licensed?
Weapons/firearms and tobacco products are not appropriate items for licensing. Other products will be considered; however, the University has the right to decline any item.

12. If my product is not going to be resold, do I still have to select a licensed vendor?
Whether or not it is produced for resale, a licensed vendor must produce any item that bears a University mark.

13. Who needs to use an official licensee?          
If your order will include an Ohio University or Ohio University Athletic mark in the design, an official licensee must purchase it. Please visit http://lrgusa.com/licensing/vendor-list/ for a complete list of approved vendors for Ohio University.

14. How does the artwork approval process work?      
If you have completed the licensing process through LRG, you will receive information on submitting artwork through Trademarx. This site manages the entire artwork approval process over the Internet.

15. How can I tell if a product is licensed officially?
Look for the Collegiate Licensed Product Authorization label. This label is your assurance that a particular piece of merchandise has been approved for sale, by the University and by the Licensing Resource Group (LRG).

16. What does the University do if unlicensed merchandise is discovered in the marketplace?
Merchandise produced without authorization may be considered counterfeit or infringing and subject to all available legal remedies.

17. How long do requests usually take to process?
Typically, for a standard or in-state license through LRG, it will take four to eight weeks.



Trademark Licensing Quick Facts

  • Using or displaying a mark acquires automatic trademark rights to the owner.

  • A license must be in place before use.

  • Licensed vendors help to ensure that the Ohio University name is used properly.

  • University trademarks can be used only after obtaining permission from the University.

  • Licensed vendors are required to carry product liability insurance.

  • Trademark and registration symbols signal the University’s ownership of its trademarks.

  • The University has the right to decline items deemed inappropriate for licensing.

  • Whether or not it is produced for resale, a licensed vendor must produce any item that bears a University mark.

  • The Collegiate Licensed Product Authorization is the assurance that a particular piece of merchandise has been approved for sale.