Frequently asked questions

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a form of intellectual property that identifies and distinguishes the goods and/or services of one organization from those of another. Trademarks can be distinctive words (known as word marks), designs (i.e., logos), letters, colors, sounds, or landmarks separately or in combination.

The university’s name and its abbreviations are considered trademarks since they identify the source of the goods and services available at or produced by the university. Thus, “University of California” and “UC” are among our trademarks. We also consider the university’s domain name, “universityofcalifornia.edu,” to be a trademark. All University of California trademarks (those associated with UC campuses, labs, and Office of the President) belong to The Regents of the University of California. The university’s name is further protected and its use governed by California Education Code 92000.

What types of licenses are available and who should I contact?

Each campus has delegated authority to grant use of its individual campus name and other trademarks. Information regarding the process for seeking permission for commercial use of these intellectual property assets, and the compaies authorized (i.e. licensed) to place UC trademarks on goods, are available where provided:

Why should I use a licensee?

Licensees agree to:

  • Use the trademarks as required by United States or international laws and/or university/campus policies.
  • Uphold the university’s reputation by placing our trademarks on quality merchandise.
  • Hold the university harmless from liability.
  • Remit royalties (in some cases) to the university to further the mission of excellence in teaching, research and public service.
  • Comply with the Trademark Licensing Code of Conduct Policy (Code), which helps to ensure that workers manufacturing our logoed goods are treated humanely and with respect.
  • Join the Fair Labor Association (FLA).

Why do we need a Code of Conduct?

The University of California has implemented the Code to provide guidelines for the socially sustainable production of UC logoed goods. Specifically, the Code outlines our expectations that the workplace environment meets a minimum acceptable standard for safety, that staff are adequately trained and that there are formal, fair and confidential grievance mechanisms for workers. These standards are verified by authorized third party monitoring organizations, such as the FLA and Worker Rights Consortium (WRC).

Why is UC a member of the WRC and FLA?

UC was an early member of both the WRC, a third-party complaint based organization, and the FLA, a multi-stakeholder organization, comprised of non-governmental organizations, colleges/universities and companies. UC determined it important to join both the FLA and WRC because they provide different but complementary approaches to monitoring, independent assessments, and investigations into worker rights code violations.

What happens if a licensee is alleged to be out of compliance with the UC Code?

While we work with our licensees to minimize the risk of this happening, if a complaint is lodged against a licensee that it is out of compliance with the UC Code, the system wide Committee will undertake to verify the allegations. Upon confirmation of the violation, and in accordance with the UC Code, UC will work with the licensee to develop a corrective action plan to remedy the violation. Should the licensee fail to correct the violations, UC may suspend or terminate the license. Following completion of a corrective action plan to remediate UC Code violation a former licensee may reapply for a license to produce UC logoed goods.

How can I help?

You can help by buying only officially licensed goods from reputable retailers. This helps to support licensees who agree to UC’s rigorous trademark licensing requirements.

Can I join the UC Committee?

Yes! The UC Committee is comprised of students (1 undergraduate and 1 graduate), faculty (2 members), and campus trademark licensing managers/directors. Students passionate about social sustainability and interested in working to improve the rights of workers manufacturing UC logoed goods should submit their applications to University of California Student Association (UCSA) to participate on the Committee. UCSA reviews applications and nominates students in good standing to represent the student body. Faculty members are appointed by the Academic Senate. Campus trademark licensing managers/directors by virtue of their position automatically serve as administrative representatives to the UC Committee. The student and faculty appointments are reviewed annually.