Trademark Licensing - Using Trademarks
U.S. Patents & Trademarks Office
As defined by the US 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." A trademark need not be registered in order to protect the rights to it, simply by using or displaying a mark acquires automatic trademark rights to the owner.
Collegiate Licensing Corporation
In order to use the University's marks, a vendor must enter into a licensing agreement with Howard. A license is a written legal agreement between the owner of the trademark (licensor) and a manufacturer/vendor (licensee). This license must be in place before use of the marks.
Royalties generated through the sales of collegiate merchandise go back to the colleges and universities for scholarship and university development opportunities. Therefore, it is important to stop the sale of unlicensed merchandise to protect the collegiate institutions involved and the integrity of the trademarks that has been established over time. If you think that you have come across a product in the marketplace that you believe is not licensed or any other infringing use of a college trademark or logo by any individual, company, or organization, please click here to anonymously report it to CLC.
Trademark & Copyright Law
Trademark infringement claims generally are based on one of three legal theories:
- “Likelihood of Confusion” – the idea that the infringer, through the use of the holder’s marks, creates among consumers confusion over the origin of the goods or services in question.
- “Dilution” – the idea that if the mark holder fails over time to take action to protect its intellectual property, the marks might become so commonplace as to be considered generic and therefore no longer protectable. Dilution is also premised on the idea that if widespread infringement of famous marks occurs, then the brand value of the famous marks will be diminished in value.
- “Tarnishment” – the idea that the use of marks by an alleged infringer on inappropriate products or the involvement of the alleged infringer in a scandal of some sort might damage the value of the marks to the holder.
Allegations of trademark infringement often include the related claim of copyright infringement for unlicensed reproduction of the artwork for the design of a logo or mascot. Proof of copyright infringement requires only a showing of access by the infringer to the original, copyrighted work and substantial similarity of the reproduction to the original.