Trademarks — like Tuffy (the Strutting Wolf) and the Block S — are valuable assets to NC State not only in brand-building but also to student scholarship revenues. Up to $1 million of proceeds from the sale of trademarked products is contributed annually to five scholarship funds, all of which are generated from trademark royalties from the companies licensed to supply fans with approved products.
The NC State Trademark Licensing office partnered with NC State University Communications to create a video encouraging fans to look for the label when buying NC State-branded products to ensure they are not unwittingly lining the pockets of trademark “pirates.” Every officially licensed product will have a special hang tag or hologram sticker marking it as a “Collegiate Licensed Product.”
“The Internet is full of pop-up stores on Amazon and Alibaba websites as well as sketchy Facebook advertisements touting NC State-branded products that are not licensed by the university,” said Gregg Zarnstorff, NC State Trademark Licensing director. “Sometimes these products don’t represent the university’s brand in a positive way; other times they’re paired with other licensed brands such as Peanuts® characters or superheroes, so they are infringing on two brands at the same time. Some bootleg products can even put a student athlete’s NCAA standings in jeopardy when their name or likeness is used without permission.
“Meanwhile, the ‘pirates’ are taking the full profit on a product that hurts our brand,” Zarnstorff added. “While we pursue these infringers on the supply side in legal channels, the new video and ad campaign target the demand side and inform NC State fans of the need to be selective in their purchases if they truly support the mission of the university.”
Royalty proceeds fund merit- and need-based scholarships, athletic scholarships, study abroad programs and scholarships for children of NC State faculty and staff attending the university.
The video is being promoted on social media via NC State’s main channels and Wolfpack Fans, a facebook page run by NC State Trademark Licensing. It is also being aired at athletic events, such as home football games at Carter-Finley Stadium.
“We want fans to know the importance of buying licensed gear, and we hope they will spread the word to other NC State fans who share our desire to ensure contributions to these important funds are maximized,” said Zarnstorff.
For more information and to view the video, visit go.ncsu.edu/look-for-label.