Frequently Asked Questions

Trademark Basics

What is a trademark?

A trademark is any word mark, slogan, symbol, design, logo or combination of these elements, which identifies and distinguishes the goods or services of one party from others.

  • A design that could create a likelihood of cunsumer confusion due to similarity to the University’s trademarks may be an infringement of the University’s trademark rights.

Who manages the University’s trademarks?

The University has delegated the responsibility for maintaining, managing, licensing and protecting the University’s trademarks to the Manager of University Trademarks and Licensing under the direction of the University General Counsel and the Office of University Communications and Marketing.

How is a trademark protected?

A trademark does not need to be registered for the owner to prevent others from using a trademark or from using a confusingly similar mark. Federal registration provides certain legal advantages to the owner when pursuing infringers. One advantage is that it provides a constructive notice to the public, which prevents anyone from claiming that they did not know the mark existed. Federal law preempts state law so any state registration performed in addition to federal, is for purposes of notice only. A trademark can be federally registered if it is used in interstate commerce. The trademark is registered in the class of goods or services for which it is used. It is possible to have multiple owners for similar trademarks as long as: 1) the goods and services are not related, 2) there is no consumer confusion as to the source of the goods and services, and 3) there is no dilution of a strong mark.

When do you use a “™” or ®?

Using the ™ or SM, provides additional notice to the general public. A registered mark may display the words Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off. or ®. These displays may only be used with the registered trademarks and on the goods and services actually stated in the Certificate of Registration. It is illegal to use the registration notice on unregistered trademarks or on unregistered goods and services. Recovery of profits and damages in an infringement suit may not be available to the owner if a proper notice of registration is not given. Proper notice is either the use of one of the three registered notices or actual notice as would be the case in a letter sent to the infringer stating that the mark is a registered trademark or as sometimes seen in documents where an asterisk is used to refer the reader to a footnote providing the notice. 
™ or SM can be used with a non-infringing trademark without any formalities and can be used on any goods and services for which the owner wants associated with the trademark.

Do I have to receive approval prior to using Miami’s marks?

All individuals must obtain approval prior to using any of Miami University’s word marks, slogans, symbols, designs, logos or combination of these elements, which identify and distinguish the goods or services of the University. Miami University is the sole owner of all of these marks that reference the University.

What happens if I use Miami’s marks without permission?

Unauthorized use of Miami’s marks is illegal and a violation of the federal Lanham Trademark Act of 1946 and the federal Trademark Act of 1984. Such violations subject the violator to liability for damages, injunctive relief, attorney’s fees and other penalties - civil and criminal. Infringing merchandise is also subject to seizure.

Do I have to receive permission to use photographs and artwork bearing the University’s name, logo, marks, buildings, or other brand elements?

Vendors or individuals seeking to use photographs or artwork of campus commercially, must seek approval from the Office of University Trademarks and Licensing prior to use. If the vendor or individual wants to sell the photographs or artwork, they must become licensed.

Licensed Vendors

Who must become licensed?

Any person, organization or business that wishes to use Miami’s brand on any product, video, advertisement, or for other commercial purposes must have a license prior to production and distribution. This includes businesses that sell to University departments and organizations that are using the products for internal or promotional purposes.

How can you obtain a license application?

See the Vendors page on this website for information on how to obtain a license application. Additionally, you can download an application directly from Learfield Licensing Partners website.

How much does it cost to be licensed?

The following costs can be expected during the licensing process. Please note additional fees may apply:

  • Application Fee: Between $150-$300, depending on the license.
  • Advance Royalty Payment: Between $100-$500, depending on the product categories licensed.
  • Royalty: 12% standard royalty rate. Please note that higher royalty rates may apply for other license types. Royalty payments and reports are due to LLP on a quarterly basis.
  • Renewal Fee: An annual renewal fee is due to LLP for those licensees that are extended a renewal offer.

When must a licensed vendor get artwork approved?

  • For standard licensees, artwork must be approved prior to production of any merchandise containing Miami University’s brand. Licensees must submit all artwork through LLP’s Trademarx system for review and approval. Artwork approval is required for each new design or application produced, regardless of who orders it. For reorders, approval last for one year. If a reorder is placed outside of the one year time frame, artwork must be resubmitted to Trademarx for review and approval prior to production.
  • For internal licensees, artwork must be approved prior to production of any merchandise containing Miami University’s brand. Licensees must submit all artwork through LLP’s Trademarx system for review and approval. Artwork approval is required for every order, even if it is a reorder.

How long do I have to wait to reapply for a license if my application was denied or my license was canceled due to a breach of contract?

If you applied for a license with Miami and your application was denied or you held a license with Miami and you breached the contract, you must wait a full calendar year before reapplying for a license.  Reapplying does not guarantee that you will be granted a license.

How does the University use the funds raised from the sale of licensed merchandise?

All revenue generated through the sale of licensed Miami University merchandise supports student scholarships.

How can you tell if an item is licensed by Miami?

  • There are three ways to tell if a product is officially licensed.
    • All licensed vendors are required to identify their product with the Collegiate Licensed Product label. (Show a picture of the label.) This label denotes that the product is authentic and has been manufactured in accordance with the University’s standards.
    • All officially licensed products have to meet the quality standards of the University. Products that are of very poor quality are not officially licensed.
    • If Miami’s word marks, trademarks, logos and/or symbols are distorted or manipulated - sometimes in a distasteful manner - the product is not officially licensed.
  • If you find a product that doesn’t meet one or more of the above standards, please report it to the Office of University Trademarks and Licensing at trademarks@miamioh.edu.

Do I need permission to use Miami University’s logos on a graduation or wedding cake.

Yes, you will need permission to use the University’s brand on a cake. Please email Laura Driscoll, the Manager of University Trademarks and Licensing at laura.driscoll@miamioh.edu the following information: name of purchaser, the name of the bakery, the address of the bakery, the type of baked goods that they will be making, the University logos/word marks that you would like to use on the baked good, your contact at the bakery and your contact’s email address. Once received, your request will be reviewed. If approved, an agreement will be sent to the bakery.

University Departments

Is there a time when I wouldn’t have to obtain permission to use Miami’s brand?

University Departments are permitted to use University marks for official University business purposes without prior approval. Official University business is defined as situations that indicate University ownership, sponsorship or participation, including but not limited to publications and other documents, stationary, signage, advertising for the department’s services, equipment, supplies, and websites. All such uses must be in accordance with any other applicable University policy and should follow the University’s Brand Standards.

Can you assist me with registering a trademark for my department?

The Office of University Trademarks and Licensing is the designated clearinghouse for all University-related trademarks. All University-derived marks are the property of Miami University and will be registered as such in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Our role in the trademark registration process is to ensure proper steps are taken for you in the registration, renewal, and affidavit process. No additional fees will be assessed for our services beyond the required filing fees as stated by the USPTO and outside counsel. For more information and help with securing a trademark, please contact Laura Driscoll, Manager of University Trademarks and Licensing, at laura.driscoll@miamioh.edu.

Miami Branded Products

How do I get a Miami University license plate?

For information about Miami University license plates, please visit University Advancement's website