Trademark Licensing Policy
Date Enacted or Revised: July 26, 2012; Revised January 5, 2016; March 18, 2022
Colleges and universities are not alone in the promotion, protection, and licensing of its trademarks. The licensing concept has been around since the advent of the entertainment and fashion industry. Well-known companies such as Disney, Coca-Cola and John Deere have used licensing to enhance its marketing and brand recognition efforts by allowing other companies to use its trademarks on merchandise. While at one point in the evolution of licensing, it was merely a means to protect a property’s ownership of a logo, licensing is now being used as a marketing tool by companies that understand the value that their trademark/brand has in the minds of its consumers.
Purpose and Mission of the Office of University Marketing and Licensing
In 2006, McNeese State University created its trademark management and licensing program to establish a foundation for promoting and protecting the use of its trademarks. Over the years, the traditions and spirit shared by the McNeese family have increased the demand for association with and products that feature the University’s trademarks. The use of McNeese’s trademarks extends through all facets of the University. Therefore, it has been the practice that the Office of University Marketing and Licensing (UML) be overseen by a senior administrator that maintains a University-wide perspective. As such, this function is under the direction of the Office of the President. The University has contracted with Learfield Communications, Inc. (“Learfield”), the nation’s leading collegiate licensing and marketing representative, to enhance the University’s efforts in this area.
With regard to licensing, the mission of UML is four-fold:
- To determine which trademarks should be legally protected for proper marketing of McNeese State University and to initiate the development of new trademarks and/or eliminate old ones as it deems necessary or desirable, subject to the approval of the president;
- To ensure proper use and application of the trademarks that have become associated with McNeese State University;
- To strengthen the trademarks through relationships with retailers, licensees, campus departments, student organizations, alumni, and fans; and
- To generate revenue that funds academic and athletic scholarships.
What is a Trademark?
A trademark (or mark) is any logo, symbol, nickname, letter(s), word, slogan, or derivative that can be associated with an organization, company, manufacturer, or institution and can be distinguished from those of other entities or competitors.
In addition to the marks listed above, any indicia adopted hereafter and used or approved for use by McNeese State University shall be subject to the policies and procedures of the trademark licensing program. Additionally, any derivations of the University marks which would cause consumers to erroneously believe that the product originated from or was sponsored or authorized by the University shall also be covered by the trademark licensing program policies and procedures.
Who Needs a License?
Licenses must be obtained for the use of any McNeese trademark, image, or photograph used on any product sold to the general public or to campus departments and organizations. In addition, promotional licenses must be obtained by companies or organizations wanting to associate with the University through any use of its trademarks.
Outlined below are the policies and procedures for the use of the McNeese State University marks related to the following areas:
- Traditional retail channels;
- Campus units (e.g., academic departments, athletics, student organizations, band, University Bookstore);
- Affiliated organizations (i.e., McNeese State University Foundation, Alumni Association); and
- Non-McNeese (i.e., alumni clubs, booster clubs, commercial use, crafters).
Traditional Retail Merchandise
Any company interested in manufacturing product that will be sold to consumers through retail distribution channels (including internet) must obtain a license through Learfield. All companies must complete the application and the requirements for licensing as outlined by Learfield. Learfield will communicate all information to UML. Based on the information provided, the University will determine whether a company will or will not be granted a license. The retail market for collegiate merchandise in general and McNeese State University merchandise specifically has become over saturated in certain product categories. Therefore, licenses may not be granted to new companies in certain categories.
The basic requirements for licensing include completing the application, providing proof of product liability insurance (amount is based on the product category), signing a license agreement (and authorized manufacturer agreements if needed), signing the labor code agreement, paying the applicable advance, getting all designs and products approved, and reporting royalties on the sale of McNeese merchandise.
McNeese State University reserves the right to prohibit use of its trademarks with certain issues and products, such as alcohol, tobacco, candidates for public office, and those products that infringe upon another entity’s trademarks or would be considered in poor taste by the general public. The University will not license products that do not meet minimum standards of quality, good taste, are dangerous, or carry high liability risks.
Licensing Policies and Procedures for Campus Units
Use of a University mark with an organization name implies association with the University. Therefore, only those student organizations that are officially recognized by the Student Government Association and official campus departments are allowed to use McNeese trademarks in conjunction with their organization’s name.
Any product bearing McNeese State University trademarks or a specific departmental logo must be purchased from licensed manufacturers. Using an officially licensed company to manufacture a product ensures that the company has provided the correct product liability insurance and signed the University’s labor code of conduct agreement. The University has many nationwide licensees and numerous in-state and locally licensed companies. A list of licensees by product category can be obtained from UML.
To ensure consistency in the use of the McNeese name and logos, all product designs must be approved by UML before production. In most cases, the manufacturer can submit the design for approval on behalf of the organization/department. However, if there are questions concerning the design, the organization’s representative may contact UML directly.
Recognized student organizations and campus departments may include sponsor names/logos on event promotional items in conjunction with the University marks under the following conditions:
- The student organization/department’s name must be included to communicate that the relationship is a partnership with a particular group and not an endorsement by the University as a whole;
- The use of the University marks in conjunction with sponsor names/logos is considered a promotional item whether sold or given away (contact UML to determine if royalty fees will apply); and
- Based on the scope of the program, a rights fee may be assessed.
In determining exemptions from royalty payment, consideration is given to the mission of the licensing program and the many constituents it serves. Given these criteria, the University is not required to pay royalties to itself for purchases of services or products that are a necessity for faculty and staff to perform their job (i.e., equipment, services, uniforms, educational tools). However, the University attempts to avoid unfair competition with other retailers and service providers and therefore, may not exempt itself from paying royalties on the purchase of goods that are to be resold to members or to the general public, regardless of the purpose of the sale. Contact UML to determine if royalty fees will apply.
Any product bearing McNeese State University trademarks must be purchased from licensed manufacturers. Using an officially licensed company to manufacture a product ensures that the company has provided the correct product liability insurance and signed the University’s labor code of conduct agreement. The University has many nationwide licensees and numerous in-state and locally licensed companies. A list of licensees by product category can be obtained from UML.
To ensure consistency in the use of the McNeese name and logos, all product designs must be approved by UML before production. In most cases, the manufacturer can submit the design for approval on behalf of the organization. However, if there are questions concerning the design, the organization’s representative may contact UML directly.
Royalties are to be paid on all product that is sold to members or to the general public regardless of the purpose of the sale.
The University recognizes that there are many groups that support the University from academics to athletics (i.e., alumni and booster clubs). Use of the University indicia by organizations that are not affiliated with the University will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. If approved, any group wanting to use the University trademarks on product for its membership or for resale must purchase the product from a current University licensee. By supporting the University’s licensing initiatives, organizations can assist the University by ensuring that product bearing the University logo is of the highest quality and meets all insurance and contractual requirements. Below are the basic guidelines that will be followed:
- Use of the University’s logo in a non-University organization’s logo requires prior approval from UML.
- Use of the University’s trademarks or likeness on product, letterhead, membership brochures, promotional products (whether giveaways or sold), advertising, signage, or websites by alumni clubs, booster clubs, crafters, or businesses or organizations running McNeese-related programs or promotions requires prior approval from UML. The licensee is responsible for getting the design approved by UML and remitting the University’s royalty, if applicable, on the wholesale price of the product.
- Businesses may not establish a permanent statue or mural that includes the University trademarks or likeness without written permission from UML.
- Businesses may use the University trademarks in a non-permanent fixture (i.e., window painting, removable lettering on marquees) supporting a University event.
- Individuals or organizations may not utilize the University’s trademarks in conjunction with a candidate for political office or policy/legislative issue without written permission from UML.
- Individuals may not use the University trademarks on a website without written permission from UML.
- Businesses may not produce merchandise for resale or giveaway that utilizes the University’s trademarks and its name and/or logo without written permission from UML.
- Businesses may not use the University trademarks to promote its products or services in print advertising, radio, or television without written approval from UML.
- Licensees or retailers of University merchandise must abide by NCAA rules. The use of the name, likeness, or position number of any student athlete (past, present, or future) is prohibited.
- Rights fees and royalties for the use of the University trademarks in all instances may be assessed.
This policy is distributed via the University Policies webpage.