Frequently Asked Questions
A trademark is a device (such as a name, icon, insignia, symbol) which is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others.
Trademark rights may be used to prevent others from using a confusingly similar mark, but not to prevent others from making the same goods or from selling the same goods or services under a clearly different mark. Trademarks which are used in interstate or foreign commerce may be registered with the Patent and Trademark Office.
Yale University’s trademark registrations include “YALE,” “YALE UNIVERSITY,” the “UNIVERSITY SHIELD” and several other marks associated with the University, such as “Y”. An “®” must appear on all products bearing Yale’s registered marks; a “TM” must appear on products containing any of Yale’s marks that are not yet registered.
The Secretary of the University is charged by the Yale Corporation with the responsibility of ensuring that the Yale name and trademarks are used properly. This duty is fulfilled through the Yale University Department of Marketing and Trademark Licensing.
The main purpose of the Program is to ensure that the Yale name and trademarks are used appropriately, in good taste, and with high-quality reproduction. The Program seeks to avoid misrepresentation of the University to the public.
Any person, business, or organization interested in using the Yale name or Trademarks for any purpose must secure the prior approval of the Yale University Department of Marketing and Trademark Licensing.
Many products will be considered for a license. Licensed products include clothing (t-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, pants, caps, and children’s clothes), pennants and banners, key chains, watches, glassware, and other gifts. Among the products that the University does not license are alcoholic beverages, tobacco and smoking products, sexually oriented goods, barbecue grills, weapons, goods related to gambling or lotteries, and products in “poor taste.” Yale reserves the right to refuse a license to any person, business, or organization.
Permission to use the Yale name or trademarks on a custom-made product may, on a case-by-case basis, be given if the gift cannot be purchased from a licensed retailer and if it is intended for the personal use of a member of the Yale community (faculty, staff, alumni). Inquiries and requests for permission should be directed to the Yale University Department of Marketing and Trademark Licensing.
Yale is committed to working to achieve fair and humane working conditions for all involved in the manufacture of its licensed goods. We believe that the most effective approach requires a rational system for gathering and analyzing facts about the industry and using this information to realize the goal of improved working conditions. Yale was a leader in the formation of the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and continues to work closely with them. Licensees are required to adopt the FLA Workplace Code of Conduct and to comply with FLA requirements.
In specific cases, Yale may elect to issue a license to a vendor who can demonstrate compliance with standards that meet or exceed those of the FLA.
With the use of commercial services and the help of alumni, students, and friends, Yale Licensing monitors the marketplace to ensure that only officially licensed merchandise is being sold. Please report any potential violations of the University’s Trademark rights to the Yale University Department of Marketing and Trademark Licensing.