Trademark Licensing FAQ

What is a trademark?
A trademark includes any word, name, symbol, design, or any combination used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services. A trademark can be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for exclusive use by the group holding the registration. Registering trademarks prevents use by non-affiliated groups and helps to keep the brand intact.

What are the Rutgers trademarks?
Rutgers’ trademarks include the name of the university, the university's institutional marks, the athletics logos and wordmarks, and all other identifying marks and names belonging to the university. This includes the names and marks associated with Rutgers University–New Brunswick, Rutgers University–Newark, Rutgers University–Camden, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences.

Who is responsible for state and federal trademark registrations?
The Office of Trademark Licensing is responsible for nonpatent-related state and federal trademark registrations, and can assist other university units seeking to register a mark, phrase, or name with the process by working with outside counsel. All costs associated with the registration process are the responsibility of the unit seeking the registration. Contact the Office of Trademark Licensing for assistance.

How does a company become a licensed vendor?
Vendors wishing to enter into a trademark license agreement with the university must contact the university’s licensing agent, IMG College Licensing. Vendors may apply for a license agreement online at

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 the Rutgers name is not used improperly or on unsafe products. Licensed vendors are also required to join the Fair Labor Association, which monitors overseas manufacturing practices. Download a list of licensed vendors provided by Trademark Licensing.

Why do the symbols ® and TM need to appear on products with the Rutgers name or logos?
The ® and TM signify the university's ownership of its trademarks and assists the university in its trademark enforcement efforts.

Why is liability a concern when distributing promotional items and giveaways?
The trademark licensing agreement that is signed by licensed vendors helps to protect the university by transferring product liability back to the vendor. Moreover, licensed vendors are required to carry product liability insurance.

What if I can't find a licensed vendor offering an item I want to buy?
The Office of Trademark Licensing will help you find an appropriate vendor. Please contact the Office of Trademark Licensing for assistance.

Can I use the official Rutgers seal for my promotion?
No. The university seal has very limited use, primarily on official university documents and diplomas. It may also be used on commencement-related items, such as diploma frames and program books. Permission is required to use the seal on these items. Contact the Office of Trademark Licensing for more information. Please consider using the Rutgers shield instead.

Is the approval of artwork required when purchasing promotional items?
Yes. Please use the Branded Merchandise Art Review Form. The licensed vendor is also responsible for submitting artwork to the Office of Trademark Licensing for approval.

Should alumni buy from a licensed vendor?
Yes. Anyone purchasing promotional items with the Rutgers name must buy from a licensed vendor.

Can I use the Rutgers Visual Identity System marks on promotional products?
Yes, please contact the Office of Trademark Licensing for guidance on the proper use and placement of the marks.

Can I use the Block R (spirit mark) on promotional products?
Intercollegiate athletics, student organizations, sports clubs, and the alumni association may use the Block R (spirit mark) on promotional products. Other units must seek the assistance of the Office of Trademark Licensing. The Block R may not be altered in any way, and it may only be reproduced according to the Rutgers Visual Identity System.

Can I create my own logo?
University departments may not create distinctive logos, as per the Board of Governors. Student groups may create their own logo as long as the name of their student group appears prominently on the product. Student groups may also use the trademarks of the university as long as they follow the standards outlined in the Rutgers Visual Identity System. Please contact the Office of Trademark Licensing for assistance.

I think my center, department, etc. needs a distinctive logo. How can I request an exemption from the Rutgers visual identity policy?

See the Visual Identity System FAQ

I see my colleague’s program, center, project isn’t using a Rutgers logo. How come they aren’t complying with the visual identity policy, but I have to?

See the Visual Identity System FAQ