Ithaca College’s newly implemented licensing policy, and the approval process that goes along with it, is causing some stress for vendors and student organizations.
Under the new policy, the college has initiated restrictions on the use of its trademark as it relates to most merchandise, including hats, pens and shirts. Protected terms include “IC,” “Bomber,” and anything involving the college’s “IC” logo. Only the colors blue, gold, black, and white may be used in new merchandise designs.
Rachel Reuben, associate vice president for marketing communications, said the college applied for the trademark last year because many other colleges have this protection.
“Other colleges have already done this and we hadn’t done it yet,” she said. “So we finally started that process about a year ago, and it was approved by the government in April.”
Reuben said anyone wishing to sell merchandise must first obtain a license by going through an approval process with Strategic Marketing Affiliates, the college’s licensing partner. Vendors then need to submit merchandise designs to the firm.
“This is standard operating procedure for vendors,” she said. “They do this with virtually all colleges that have licensing programs. Most colleges have licensing programs, we just didn’t have one in place here yet.”
Reuben said more than 100 vendors in the area have become licensed to sell apparel since the college secured its trademark. However, not all sellers are happy about the new approval process.
Brandy Adams, owner of I-Town Press, a screen-printing company, worked for PSP Unlimited, which supplied merchandise for the college for 10 years. She said the new process is relatively strict and has already had designs rejected under the new licensing policy.
“I had a job about a month and a half ago, and it was a six-color design, and I couldn’t get it approved, because it wasn’t gold, or navy, or white,” Adams said. “So you’re really, really limited.”
Adams said she anticipates the college will become less strict with the policy as time passes, something she has experienced before with Cornell University’s licensing policy.
“It’s just because it’s the first year they’re doing it,” she said. “So they’re really stringent about what T-shirt color people are allowed to have and logo colors and everything has to have a circled ‘R’ on it. I think it will get a little bit more lax as the years come.”
Although Reuben held informational sessions in August and October and worked with the Office of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs to raise awareness for the policy, many students have been caught off guard by it.
Senior Katie Gaskill, president of IC Cheerleaders, said her club ordered $1,000 worth of “Bombers” T-shirts to sell as part of a fundraiser. The college stopped the on-campus sales rapidly because they said the shirts were not approved by SMA and were not purchased from one of the college’s licensed vendors.
The college eventually worked with IC Cheerleaders to address the problem because the fundraiser was planned before the policy was implemented. Gaskill, however, said she still wishes the policy was more widely advertised.
“We were so caught off guard,” she said. “Even the people in recreational sports had no idea what the policy was. They’re trying to basically police everything that gets made on this campus.”