University Marketing and Communications

Trademark Basics

What is a trademark?
As defined by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, “a trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.” A trademark need not be registered in order to have protectable rights to it; simply by using or displaying a mark acquires automatic trademark rights to the owner. 

What is trademark licensing?
Trademark licensing is a permit from a trademark owner (generally referred to as the licensor) to another party (generally referred to as the licensee) under which the licensor grants the licensee the right to use the trademark in specific ways. It is subject to various risk insulation and quality control provisions and, most often, in return for royalties. The conditions of use are most often spelled out in a license agreement.

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Last Updated: 4/8/19