Clearing up a gray issue of authority, the University of Minnesota Board of Regents will vote Friday on amending its policy regarding the use of the University’s name by third parties.
Under the revised policy, the Board grants itself the authority to determine when, where and by whom the University’s name is openly affiliated.
“Previously, it was unclear to what degree the Board wished to be involved in an approval fashion,” said University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg.
Amending the policy is also part of the Board’s review of old policies to ensure they are up to date. The policy last saw changes in 2006.
Regent Chairman Clyde Allen said the size of the University necessitates establishing who can authorize the use of the University’s name.
The authority of the Board extends to any non-University parties, but the amendment won’t burden the Board with small licensing requests, such as key chains and T-shirts sold in unaffiliated stores, Rotenberg said. The University uses the Collegiate Licensing Company for those purposes.
The CLC is a trademark and licensing company that helps nearly 200 colleges manage their brands.
University affiliates, such as the University of Minnesota Foundation, fall under the Board’s authority as well, though they have a long-standing agreement that allows them to use the University marks with their own discretion.
The policy gives specific power to the Board to remove the University’s name from “any campus, college, school, division or unit.” But that’s a situation Allen doesn’t anticipate the Board will encounter.
Rotenberg said issues that would require the Board’s attention don’t happen very often. He guessed it would come up a few times each year.
If and when it does come up, Allen said, “We would want to be sure we were all very comfortable with the reputation and the integrity of that organization before we joined in with them on something where our logo would be prominently displayed. It’s a matter of maintaining the reputation of the University.”
In 2008, the University ran into a problem with a for-profit business using its logo without its approval.
When Victoria’s Secret launched its PINK Collegiate Collection, it named the University among its featured schools. The University requested the products be removed from shelves.
At the time, University spokesman Dan Wolter said the reputation and image of Victoria’s Secret were the reasons the University decided not to permit the company’s use of its name.
The issue was said to be a miscommunication, because the University did not work with Victoria’s Secret directly and instead worked through the CLC.
Some of the merchandise was sold before the University was successful in its quest to remove it.
Rotenberg said the University keeps an eye on how its name is being used by nonprofit and for-profit entities to ensure no one is misusing it. If an occasion should arise, the company will hear about it through the general counsel’s office.
He said such companies usually comply with the request.
“Most people who get letters from my office pay attention to those letters,” Rotenberg said.
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