Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about licensing or find answers to your specific questions below.
Licensing and Trademarks
QWhat is Affinity Licensing?
Affinity Licensing is a full-service trademark licensing firm that combines more than 100 years of expertise in collegiate, athletic, fraternal and association licensing to help our clients accelerate their brands. We do that by delivering better solutions to brand management, client advocacy and vendor cultivation.
QWho needs to become licensed?
Any group or individual that wishes to trade on the goodwill associated with our clients' marks, and benefit commercially from utilization of those marks, must become licensed in order to do so. A vendor is not required to become licensed in order to resell products produced by a licensed manufacturer, so long as they do not further embellish the product or expand on the use of the insignia.
QWhat are the organization's trademarks?
The trademarks include the organization's name, nicknames, logos, symbols, mascots and other insignia. Any and all commercial use of these marks (or any marks that are confusingly similar) must be granted through a license agreement.
QHow can a nickname or symbol be a trademark?
Since the trademark owner has used the nickname and/or symbol consistently in conducting business for many years, they have the right to claim ownership of that mark within their channel of trade. Federal courts have routinely reinforced the fact that nicknames and symbols are distinctive and protectable marks.
QWhat are the benefits of being licensed?
There are many benefits to being licensed, including exposure on AffinityLicensing.com and the ability to market your company as officially licensed. Becoming licensed is the only legal way to utilize our clients' marks. Also, our clients direct their students and/or members to patronize only licensed vendors and to look for vendors that are using the Official Licensed Product seal (only available to licensed vendors).
QWhy are vendors required to submit representative samples in order to become licensed?
Our clients expect that high quality products and services are made available to their audience. We must carefully review proposed products in order to ensure that this expectation is met.
QWhy must all designs be approved prior to production, marketing and/or sale?
As values-based organizations and institutions, our clients must ensure that their marks are only used in ways that positively reflect their standards. Moreover, it is important that they maintain the integrity of their brand identity. Each product or service that displays one or more of our clients' marks will have an impact on their reputation as an organization or institution, so they have a responsibility (and a legal right) to uphold certain guidelines related to the use of their marks.
QWhy are vendors required to pay a royalty?
Licensing exists primarily to protect the goodwill associated with a trademark by ensuring quality control of products and services. Our clients have a right and a responsibility to control the commercial use of their marks; one of the rights afforded to them is the ability to collect a royalty in order to offset the costs of managing a licensing program. In order to protect the integrity of this royalty reporting process, and maintain a level playing field among vendors, we conduct regular audits of our licensees. These practices are industry standard and common among trademark owners.
QWhy is maintaining a $1 million insurance policy, and listing the trademark owner as additional insured, required?
Our clients incur potential liability when their insignia is placed on a product or associated with a service. If someone were to sue the trademark owner in a liability claim because of a product a vendor produced or a service a vendor provided, then the organization or institution can rely on this insurance coverage in order to assist in defending themselves.
Compliance and Enforcement
QHow do you ensure that vendors accurately report their sales?
All royalty reports and sales data, along with payments will be submitted electronically each quarter by vendors. Our staff will thoroughly review all data submitted to ensure accuracy. The vendor license agreement also provides Affinity Licensing with auditing rights and access to sales and financial information. We conduct routine audits with vendors on behalf of our clients to ensure further accuracy.
QWhat happens if a vendor decides to not comply with the trademark owner’s trademark rights?
On behalf of our clients, we have a legal obligation to follow up with known cases of infringement until the vendor complies with the organization’s trademark rights. If a vendor continues to utilize any of our clients' marks outside of a license agreement, we may have no choice but to turn the case over to our attorneys. Also, if a vendor continues to utilize the marks once they are made aware of licensing, our clients require that the vendor pay back royalties from the date we first made them aware of the ownership rights before our client(s) will approve them as a licensee.