Internal Units (Departments, programs, affiliates, etc.)

Quick Links:

Internal Trademark Use Form (
Searchable database of all licensees (
Art requirements for departments and internal units (
Promotional Merchandise Toolkit (

Frequently Asked Questions:

Internal units must follow the Visual Identity System when producing printed matter and the Internal Use Guidelines when ordering product. The Office of University Marketing manages the Visual Identity System and questions should be directed to this office. The Trademark Licensing Office manages the Internal Use Guidelines. Common questions asked by internal units are listed.

Do I need to get permission to use the marks for products given away to promote the university? Yes. All units must fill out a Trademark Internal Use form to request use of the marks and have the use approved by Trademark Licensing. Trademark Licensing's approval process is to ensure a licensed vendor is being used as well as reviewing the design to ensure internal design standards are followed. Included on the form is a section to request a royalty exemption. Exemptions from paying royalties are granted only by Trademark Licensing and based on the use of the marks. It is the responsibility of the unit to complete the Trademark Internal Use form and, it is best to take the form directly to the licensed vendor at the time an order is placed. The licensee will submit the form and design to Trademark Licensing for final approval. If the Trademark Licensing Office grants an exemption, the licensee is required to keep the form on file for auditing purposes.

Is this a new procedure or form that units must fill out? No. The form was originally called the Royalty Exemption Request form but was renamed to better identify trademark use. Trademark Licensing has always required this form to be filled out. Most units have not realized that the licensees have been filling out the forms on their behalf. On numerous occasions, the licensee does not have all the information or details needed and Trademark Licensing must follow up with the unit. Since it has always been the responsibility of the unit to request use of the marks and a royalty exemption, it should be the unit that fills out the form. The more complete the form and accurate the details, the easier it is for Trademark Licensing to process. If the form is not complete, it will be sent back to the unit, which will cause a delay in processing the information. For a timely response from Trademark Licensing, the unit must complete the form.

How and where can my unit order merchandise? Merchandise must be purchased through a licensed vendor. If you choose an unlicensed vendor, the vendor must complete the licensing process before Trademark Licensing will approve the use of the marks. University Marketing has provided design options for units to follow when ordering product to identify the unit and the university. For more information, please visit the following page: Promotional Merchandise Toolkit.

Are units allowed to use the "Old Cy" marks (Walking Cy and Leaning Cy)? No. The University Marketing's Visual Identity System does not include the use of the older marks as a current brand identifier for the university. Units requesting a variance should contact University Marketing. The Trademark Licensing Office does allow the use of "Old Cy" and some "vintage" marks in the retail market as an option for the general consumer.

Is the use of The Seal allowed for internal units? The use of The Seal is restricted to the Office of the President and monitored by the Office of University Marketing. Questions should be directed to the Office of University Marketing.

There are several schools that have the same initials "ISU." How can Iowa State claim ownership to the initials ISU? Iowa State University was the first "ISU" institution to apply for and be granted a federal registration for the use of this mark. We exercise common sense and courtesy and do not pursue actions against our fellow "ISU" institutions. However, we actively pursue others from using our mark and/or have agreements in place with outside entities requiring a disclaimer for the use. University Marketing suggests that since there are other institutions that also identify with these initials, units should consider including other marks in applications that are distributed regionally or have national exposure.

What is the purpose of the "®" and "™" and are units 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. Units are not required to apply the "™" or "®" to internal printed matter such as stationary, business cards, brochures, flyers, etc. Use of notices are required by the marks when placed on all commercial products such as apparel including shirts, sweatshirts, etc. and novelty or advertising specialties such as pens, mugs, banners, magnets, etc.

Does Trademark Licensing grant permissions for the use of photos found on the ISU website? No. Photos are considered intellectual property. Any photographs used in your communication must have the approval of the photographer. There are also situations when permission must be obtained from those being photographed. Click here to read the Guidelines for Photo/Image/Voice Permission.

Does Trademark Licensing grant permissions for the use of campus art? No. Permission to use art on campus must be obtained through University Museums. However, if trademarks are included in the use, Trademark Licensing will need to be involved in the process.

Where can business cards be ordered? ISU Printing Services handles all internal business card orders with templates available. Only employed faculty and staff may purchase university business cards. Students and those not employed by the university are not allowed to use the marks to create business cards.

Our unit wants to create a new logo for a separate identity. Is this possible? To create a unified brand to identify all university units, the university created the Visual Identity System managed by the Office of University Marketing. Any deviation from this system must be reviewed and a waiver granted by University Marketing.

Our unit has come up with a logo that we want to federally register. It does not contain university trademarks and we think that the application of it on product will generate funds for our unit. Can we do this? Typically, units are not allowed to deviate from the Visual Identity System and create a new logo for their unit (see above). However, Trademark Licensing has a questionnaire that can be completed by the unit. Trademark Licensing and the Office of University Counsel review the form and send a recommendation to the Vice President for Business and Finance. It is the responsibility of the Vice President to make the final decision. Should a unit be granted an allowance, which rarely occurs, the unit would be responsible for all fees incurred including but not limited to outside attorney review and search costs and all federal registration fees and maintenance costs. Most units have found that the "up-front" fees and maintenance of a mark in this process and the governmental requirements are prohibitive when compared to the funds that may or may not be generated by the actual use of the mark.