Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I need to get permission to use university marks even for use by our organization members? Yes. All organizations must fill out a Trademark Use form to request use of university marks and have the use approved by the Trademark office. The Trademark office approval process is to ensure a licensed vendor is being used as well as reviewing the design to ensure student use design standards are followed.


How do I know what university trademarks my organization can use in designs? As a recognized student organization, you must still have permission from the university to use university trademarks.  Your organization’s access to the university’s trademarks is dependent upon its tier. The tiers have been identified by the Student Activities Center as either a Sponsored, Affiliated, or Registered/Campus Organization. For information regarding your organization's tier, please contact the Student Activities Center or visit their website.


Who can fill out a trademark request form for our organization? Any officer/adviser for your organization may fill out the trademark request form. When you log into our form system, you will see a drop down box that will list any organizations you are an officer/adviser for and you can click the appropriate organization for that order. 


Do we have to use our organization name in our designs? Yes. Your officially registered organization name must be in your designs. If your name does not include language that would identify your group as a university organization, Trademark Licensing will require additional language such as "club", "student chapter", or "student organization" (see Section 6 in the Student Use Guidelines). This applies to all intended uses, including organization member-wear, internal use, giveaways, fundraising/resale and event designs. 


How long will it take for my organization’s design to be approved? The Trademark office will review design submissions promptly; however, it is recommended that an organization submit a design at least 2 weeks prior to submission of a merchandise order to ensure enough time for review.


Can university marks be manipulated or altered? No. While Sponsored and Affiliated organizations can use the logos identified in the student use guidelines, the marks cannot be altered or manipulated from the original design. Certain university marks may be eligible for use on apparel with fashion colors, using either the 1-color or 2-color set-up of the mark. However, fashion colors that identify another Iowa university – e.g, gold and black (Iowa), purple and gold (UNI) - may not be used with university trademarks. 


How can I be sure my organization’s design complies with the student use guidelines? The Trademark office's website contains links to the university’s marks, common mistakes, and examples of improper use. [LINK]  Trademark will also work with your organization upon submission of a design to ensure it is in compliance. For specific questions, contact    


Why can’t my organization use old university logos (i.e.,  "Walking Cy"), in our designs?  The vintage collection include logos from specific points in university history. To maintain their uniqueness and keep the university’s brand current, we must remain consistent. There are a limited number of licensees permitted to use the university’s Vintage collection, but those licensees are the only ones permitted to use the Vintage collection on behalf of the university. 


What is the purpose of the "®" and "™" and are organizations required to use them? To show that an entity claims the right to a mark, a notice is used such as the "™" or "®." The "™" symbol is used to claim common law trademark rights on a mark that is not federally registered in a specific class of goods on which the mark is placed. The "®" notice is used to show the mark is owned and federally registered in a certain class of goods. Use of notices is required by the marks when placed on printed material on a case-by-case basis and all merchandise such as apparel including shirts, sweatshirts, etc. and novelty or advertising specialties such as pens, mugs, banners, magnets, etc.


What are the university’s trademarks? A listing of the university’s marks is available here. The university also has retired marks that are no longer used but still protected by the university. If you have any questions about whether or not you are using a trademark, please contact us for further discussion at


Can our organization create our own logo? Organizations using a university trademark in their design cannot claim ownership or federally register their organization design. However, organizations who choose not to use university marks in their designs have more flexibility in design creation.


Can my organization use the trademarks of third parties in designs? The trademarks or other intellectual property of a third party may be used in an organization’s design so long as the organization has written permission from the owner of the intellectual property and, if using a university mark in addition to third party marks, the organization has provided that documentation to the Trademark office in conjunction with the trademark request form.  


When do I need to use a licensed vendor? If your organization wishes to use university trademarks on your merchandise, you are required to use a licensed vendor. If you are not using any reference to the university, the use of a licensed vendor is not required. If you have questions on whether or not a university trademark is being used, please contact us for further discussion at A searchable database of licensed vendors can be found on the Trademark office website, or email for more information. 


Can my organization acknowledge a contribution from a third party sponsor to our event? Sponsors or other third parties contributing to an organization’s event or project may be acknowledged for their support, provided there is language to identify the third party’s relationship to the organization (i.e., the organization’s event is “sponsored by” third party) and there is clear separation between any use of the university mark and sponsor marks to avoid the appearance of an endorsement. 


Is a new Trademark Request Form required every time my organization submits a design? A trademark request form is required with each design submission. This includes designs previously approved. Trademark must review each design bearing university trademarks prior to use to ensure the designs are in compliance with the university’s trademark policy and guidelines in effect at the time of the design submission. Re-review of designs is required to ensure an organizations’ use of university marks continues to be permitted under the then-current policy and guidelines.


Are any of my organization’s trademark requests exempt from royalties? A royalty exemption may be requested in instances where an organization intends to sell licensed merchandise at no cost to its members or on purchases that are given away. Exemptions from paying royalties are granted by Trademark Licensing through the Trademark Use form. It is the responsibility of the organization to complete the Trademark Use form and will need to keep the approval email for their p-card submission.


How do I pay the royalty on items that are not granted an exemption? The royalty is part of the licensed vendors contract with the university and is not something your organization pays directly to the university. The royalty fee is generally included in your organization's cost to the vendor, then the vendor will pay the royalty to the Trademark office.


Where can I find a Trademark Use Request Form? Trademark Use forms are available online


Is my organization’s adviser required to approve our designs? Yes. All designs involving university marks submitted to the Trademark office for review will be routed to your organization’s adviser for review and approval prior to approval by the Trademark office.