Trademarks and Licensing

The Office of Marketing and Communications manages the proper use of the Rochester Institute of Technology's name, logo and marks to protect the integrity of our identity, brand and reputation.  All employees and students, as well as outside vendors, must work with our division to create branded merchandise with any of RIT marks, name or lock-ups. 

The Office of Marketing and Communications reserves the right to review all marketing materials on a case by case basis to determine if materials met the university brand guidelines. 

Promotional Products

Often known as giveaways or “swag,” promotional products are customized merchandise intended to publicize the university or a specific department, service, event or initiative. They can act as conversation starters and incentivize participation at events that showcase university services. Additionally, these items can commemorate special occasions, such as when presenting an award, acknowledging a milestone or thanking someone with a gift. Promotional items often incorporate components of the university’s visual identity, contact information and other pertinent information, depending on the item’s use and size.

Before ordering a promotional product, please consider the following:

Give yourself plenty of time. It takes longer than most people think to select an item, obtain internal unit and trademark approvals, then purchase, produce and ship the item. Keep in mind, most items are shipped from overseas, which can further delay the order.

Follow university brand standards. You cannot alter brand standards for any reason. This includes adjusting clear space because an imprint area is too small or avoiding added costs with more imprint areas. Items selected should have an imprint area/s large enough to maintain full legibility and meet university brand standards. If you run into an issue when ordering, please reach out to brand@rit.edu for help. 

Choose a quality item. Don’t just buy the lowest-priced version of an item. Be careful of imitations that are cheaply made, which reflect poorly on the university and the program or initiative you’re promoting.  

Think about sustainability. When selecting an item, consider the impact it will have on the environment if the recipient doesn’t find it useful and discards it.

Use a university-licensed vendor. Licensed vendors are vetted by the university and our licensing partner, familiar with brand standards and have access to approved logos and lockups. Additionally, they carry appropriate liability insurance for various products and formally agree to abide by the university’s code of conduct, which requires the company to conduct business in a socially responsible manner—important to the university’s mission. Please review the list of approved promotional vendors

Enforcement

RIT Brand and Licensing, along with the Office of Legal Affairs, rigorously enforces the proper use of our name and marks.  We monitor the marketplace to ensure only officially licensed product is sold.  

Unauthorized Uses 

RIT's name and trademarks may not be used in any way that discriminates or implies discrimination against any persons or groups based on age, ancestry, belief, color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion, gender, sex, sexual orientation or veteran status, or in any other way that would be a violation of RITs anti-discrimination policies or practices.

Additionally, they are not permitted for use in any manner that suggests or implies RIT's endorsement of other organizations, companies, products, services, political parties or views, or religious organizations or beliefs.

Any use of an organization, business or program name in conjunction with a RIT mark is also subject to approval by RIT Branding and Licensing. 

If you encounter any unauthorized use of the university marks, please contact RIT Brand and Licensing at brand@rit.edu

Trademarks

What is a trademark?  

A trademark or service mark includes any word, name, symbol, device 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 (US Patent and Trademark Office)

The university owns a variety of symbols, marks, seals and words which have been in use for years.  RIT has been protecting these university symbols for years through the USPTO.  These marks are known to the internal and external community as being associated with RIT.  Our primary word mark, RIT, as well as the Tiger head are trademarked.  There are a few proprietary marks that are trademarked as well but are for campus-wide use. 

Trademark registration conveys legal rights to RIT against infringement of these marks by external parties. A mark may consist of any one of the following items: words, symbols, graphic designs. Registering a RIT trademark entails formal legal action with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Steps in Registering a RIT Trademark

Although the university does not encourage new marks be created by departments on campus, sometimes it is necessary or warranted. The university established a lock-up system in 2018 that keeps the marks on campus looking consistent.  Hundreds of new lock-ups have been generated since that time to replace older marks. 

 

If a trademark is truly warranted, requests for trademark registration go through the Division of Marketing and Communications and the Licensing team. This office will coordinate processing of this request through RIT's Office of Legal Affairs. For more information, please see the RIT Trademark Registration Form.

The applicant will receive updates on the progress of the registration process. The outcome of the trademark registration will be announced to the initiating department with copies of the trademark registration kept in the Office of Legal Affairs.

 RIT Trademark Infringement

The trademark registration enables RIT to protect our marks against potential infringement. Trademark infringement exists when a party uses the registered mark of another in association with the activities, advertisement or operations of that party without the express permission of the mark's owner. The standard for determining infringement rests on whether the use of a mark by a third party could lead a reasonable person to confuse association with another's trademarked activities.

The Division of Marketing and Communications works with Risk Management on infringement cases as necessary.  Many times these illegal uses are around merchandise online. 

Process for Investigating & Handling Infringement Claims

The members of the RIT community who become aware of possible infringement of these marks are encouraged to alert RIT through the following process:

  • Possible infringement identified and reported to the Division of Marketing and Communications.  The Licensing team can be reached at brand@rit.edu.
  • Sufficient details should be provided to permit Licensing to investigate.
  • A case number is assigned to the infringement complaint.
  • RIT will investigate the alleged infringement.
  • If it is determined infringement exists, RIT will determine further action to be taken.

For more information

Questions can be directed to the Division of Marketing and Communications: Lindsay St. Lucia, Director of Branding and Advertising or referred to RIT's in-house counsel in regards to trademarks.

Information for Vendors

All vendors that work with RIT must hold an official trademark license in order to print merchandise with any RIT marks.  Your company information is provided directly to the university community when they're looking to order promotional goods.  

Any vendor that provides an item carrying RITs trademarks, such as names, seals, uniforms or other identifying visuals, that represents Rochester Institute of Technology, must be a collegiate licensed vendor with RIT and be registered with our current licensing agent, Nexus Licensing. This applies to items that are for internal UB entities as well as those for outside retailers.

Royalty-Bearing Items

All items produced for retail sale, whether in part or whole, are subject to our current royalty rate; no exceptions.

Items produced for internal use, including by student groups, are generally royalty-free. However, there are circumstances in which the royalty fee is applied. Orders placed by any university entity, including student groups, that will be sold at cost or for a profit, including items purchased for personal use, such as apparel for student club members who must pay for the item, whether in part or in whole, will be considered royalty-bearing. 

Single-Order Licenses

Even though branded consumable products require use of a RIT licensed vendor, there are instances when the product is so uncommon and/or infrequently purchased (for example, a customized graduation cake) that a licensed vendor is not available. In these rare cases, a single-order approval will be issued. Please reach out to the brand and licensing group for approval. 

Crafters License 

This license provides the ability of fans and alumni of RIT who are interested in selling handmade merchandise with the RIT marks on them. This is a flat fee and has to be renewed annually.  Contact the brand and licensing group for information on how to apply for this license . 

Fair Labor Association

RIT became a member of the Fair Labor Association in late 2021.  This association is committed to ensuring safe and fair workplaces for millions of workers around the globe. It prohibits abusive labor practices by offering tools and resources to companies to ensure safety among their workplace.  What this means is that all vendors that RIT works with need to ensure they or their third-party producers are a part of this association before the produce something with the RIT trademarks on them.

To learn more about FLA, please visit fairlabor.org. For questions about our membership, please email brand@rit.edu