Carnegie Mellon University

How to Obtain a Trademark License

Thank you for your interest in applying for a trademark license from Carnegie Mellon University.  Companies and individuals wishing to use our marks are required to enter into a non-exclusive trademark license agreement with the university. The information on this page should assist you in your decision to begin this process.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Carnegie Mellon has adopted a Code of Workplace Conduct (CODE) for our trademark licensees, as recommended by our University Task Force on Anti-Sweatshop Labor.  We want to know if your company is committed to a CSR program that protects workers in the supply chain of merchandise carrying our brand. We also have an interest that the communities and environment in which they work are also respected. Note that our “CODE” is a major component of our licensing agreement and should be carefully reviewed and understood before proceeding in our licensing process.

Factory Disclosure

Carnegie Mellon also requires detail disclosure of factory locations as a contractual obligation. Factory location information must include domestic and overseas facilities.  If all imprinting, embroidery, etc. is done in-house, a list of suppliers from whom blanks are ordered must be disclosed.  Please be aware that this information will not be considered confidential and will be given out to the Fair Labor Association (FLA), the Worker Rights Consortium  (WRC) and other interested parties.

Because all our Trademark Licensees are required to join the FLA you are encouraged to review the FLA site as there will be affiliation fees owed directly to their organization. If you have already applied to the FLA, an additional application is not necessary just for Carnegie Mellon - one application covers all universities who require FLA participation. However, the FLA requires you to register with them annually on January 1.

Once our Code and the FLA requirements have been reviewed, interested companies should begin our three (3) step licensing process, which consists of:

Step 1:

In Step 1, in applicant is to complete and return our application, current sales literature, a product sample, proof of liability insurance and a non-refundable $125 licensing fee. The licensing fee will not be applied towards future applicable royalty payments. The product proposal will then be reviewed and if approved the applicant enters step 2.  If all the documents required in “Step 1” are not returned within thirty (30) calendar days from the date of this letter, the Trademark Licensing Office will assume a company is no longer interested in using our trademarks.  If a company has a renewed interest in obtaining a license after one (1) calendar year from the date of this letter, they will be required to submit an additional licensing fee.

Step 2:

In Step 2, a non-exclusive licensing agreement is emailed to the applicant.  The applicant then reviews, signs and returns as a single PDF document via email to  Your insurance agent should also email a certificate of insurance which meets all requirements listed in the contract.  All agreements expire on June 30.

Effective July 1, 2015 our royalty rate was raised from 8" to 10% of the manufacturer's net selling price on all products bearing the marks of the University.  A 10% rate is comparable to the average of our peer institutions at 11.4%  The collegiate licensing industry is experienceing a consistent upward trend with royalties far exceed the previous industry average of 12%.  Royalty rates in the 20%+ are being set by several Division 1 schools pushing the industry average to 15%. 

Currently, products sold direct to university departments or recognized student organizations are royalty exempt with few exceptions as long as the decoration on the product is unique and not available through retail channels. Merchandise sold to our on campus university store is NOT exempt from the royalty.

Step 3:

In Step 3, email verification is sent to the licensee informing them we signed the contract.  The licensee also receives camera ready artwork, sales history/royalty forms and labeling information. Because we are an independently managed licensing program we use the CLPA label.  Starting July 1, 2008 Carnegie Mellon required the use of the new “Collegiate Licensing Product” label and/or hangtag (as appropriate) on all licensed products consistent with the CLPA Authentication Program guidelines currently described at

The licensing process is then complete.  All agreements are usually renewed annually and are valid from July 1 through June 30.  All agreements expire on June 30 regardless of when they were originally signed, so in some cases the first contractual term may be less than twelve months.

Note: The Trademark Licensing Office must approve all artwork/designs in writing prior to manufacturing a product.  No design will be approved prior to the completion of the licensing process.

You are encouraged to be thorough in your completion of the licensing process in order to avoid unnecessary delay.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Trademark Licensing Office at (412) 268-3904.