Frequently Asked Questions

What is a trademark and how are trademarks protected?

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of these, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. Trademarks may be either legally registered or established by use. For information about basic trademark facts, including the difference between a trademark, copyright and patent, please visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office website.

In the United States, usage is the most significant factor for trademark protection. Trademark protection begins with disciplined use rather than trademark registration and trademark rights are established through consistent use. Trademark registration is appropriate in certain circumstances, and different types of marks may require different forms of registration. To determine if a name or logo associated with the University should be registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or internationally, please contact TML.

What are Princeton University’s trademarks?

Princeton’s registered trademarks require a “®” designation and include:

  • “Princeton University”
  • “Princeton”
  • Shield(s)
  • “Clio Tiger”
    Clio Tiger

Other Princeton non-registered, trademarks require a “TM” designation and include:

  • “In the Nation’s Service and in the service of all Nations”
  • Tiger designs
  • The block “P” designs
  • “Tiger Striped P”
  • “Medallion” designs

Princeton’s trademarks may be found in Princeton’s Graphic Identity Systems/Guidelines:

Why are the “®” and “TM” notices used?

The ® symbol indicates that the mark is federally registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The ™ symbol, placed behind the mark, indicates that the word, design, symbol, etc. is claimed as a trademark by the owner. These symbols indicate Princeton’s ownership of its trademarks.

What is a licensee?

A licensee is a person or an organization that has been granted the legal right by Princeton, under a trademark license agreement, to use Princeton’s trademarks.

What is a trademark license agreement?

A trademark icense agreement is the legal document (contract) that governs the relationship between the party producing/selling products (licensed products) that bear Princeton University’s trademarks/logos and Princeton University. A trademark license must be in place before any licensed products are manufactured; sold or marketed.

For information about becoming a Trademark Licensee of Princeton University or to inquire about the terms of the trademark license or the Trademark Licensing Program, please contact the Associate Director of Trademark Licensing.

Why use a licensed vendor?

Princeton preserves its trademarks through correct use, consistent with the University’s graphic identity systems/guidelines. This is the responsibility of every member of the University community, as well as all Princeton University trademark licensees. 

Under the Trademark Licensing Program, all artwork must be submitted to Trademark Licensing for approval prior to production. This approval process ensures that the University’s graphic identity systems/guidelines are consistently used and that the representations portrayed in the merchandise accurately reflects the image of the University. 

Other protections that are afforded to the University through licensing include: assurances that goods are produced in factories that institute fair labor standards; licensees have appropriate insurance coverage; clarifications relating to royalties/fees payable, etc.

Princeton University has the responsibility (under Federal and State law) to ensure that only those outside entities receiving University permission, usually in the form of a trademark license, are able to use Princeton University’s trademarks. Part of this responsibility includes pursuing entities and individuals that may attempt to infringe upon Princeton’s trademarks.

How do I recognize officially Licensed Products?

The Collegiate Licensed Product Association (CLPA) label or hologram (holographic sticker) helps consumers recognize officially Licensed Products. Princeton’s licensees are required to include the CLPA graphic, hang tag or holographic sticker with Licensed Products and/or packaging. This label/hologram serves as a notice to consumers that the merchandise has been produced under license by an approved vendor.

Is the Princeton University Seal permitted to be used on Licensed Products?

No, the Princeton University Seal (a seal encircled by Princeton’s motto and name in Latin) is the corporate signature representing official business of the Board of Trustees and the president. It is imprinted on ceremonial documents, awards and diplomas and is not permitted for use on Licensed Products.

What are the Licensed Products under the Princeton University Trademark Licensing Program?

A list of the Licensed Products under the Trademark Licensing Program may be found here.  This is a resource which indicates the types of merchandise that may be manufactured under a trademark license.  If a product is not included on this list, please contact the Associate Director of Trademark Licensing to determine if it may be produced under a trademark license.

Are there any items that Princeton University will not license?

Yes, the following items are excluded from Princeton’s Trademark Licensing Program and may not be used with any of Princeton University’s trademarks or logos:

  1. Items for official Princeton business purposes and official Princeton ceremonies, including, but are not limited to, stationery, business cards, directories and official reports
  2. Items such as personal bank checks and address labels
  3. Princeton Letter Sweater
  4. Alcoholic beverages
  5. Tobacco and smoking products 
  6. Food products
  7. Sexually oriented goods
  8. Healthcare products and toiletries
  9. Goods related to gambling, lotteries, sweepstakes
  10. Religious or burial goods
  11. Products of a political nature
  12. Education-related products
  13. Goods including names or pictures of current students (i.e., athletes, movie stars, etc.)
  14. Services of any kind (i.e. moving companies, area entertainment programs or tour services)
  15. Advertising or promotional literature of any kind
  16. Goods making unfavorable references to race, religion, sex, national origins or handicaps
  17. Firearms and weapons
  18. Products in "poor taste", including bathroom products
May I use Princeton’s name; trademarks or logos on a custom-made gift?

Permission to use Princeton’s name; trademarks; or logos on a custom-made product may be given, on a case-by-case basis if:

  • The product is customized and cannot be purchased from an existing licensee
  • The specific product will be manufactured only once for personal (non-commercial) use by one member of the Princeton community
  • A single use agreement is entered into between the vendor and Princeton University.

Please contact the Associate Director of Trademark Licensing with these inquires/requests.

Who do I contact for other Princeton University intellectual property matters?

For information or inquiries concerning Princeton University copyright or patent matters, please visit the Office of Technology Licensing website.