Our previous “Licensing Defined” blog post described licensing as the process of leasing a trademarked or copyrighted property for use in conjunction with a product service or promotion. So why might a business want to begin a licensing program or give others the right to use its own intellectual property? One primary reason to begin a licensing program is to protect your intellectual property, or, the brand.
Your brand is your identity. It is how everyone sees you; it is how consumers position your institution in their mind. When people see your logo on a television commercial or in a newspaper advertisement, it elicits an emotional response. Thus, it is not hard to realize why protecting your brand is so important. Do not confuse a brand with a logo or symbol. Brands are not concrete; they are the thoughts, feelings, and psychological relationships between a business and a customer. Logos are the visual gateway to the brand in your mind.
A brand owner will not want anyone and everyone to have the ability to use its brand. Giving control of using the property to anyone can lead to confusion or negative perceptions of the brand in the marketplace. A licensing program is set up to give the brand owners control over who can use the brand, where it is distributed and how it can be seen — all of which can affect the position of the brand.
In order to protect the licensor’s brand, the licensor and licensee have responsibilities, many which involve logo usage standards. Licensors should establish a set of guidelines defining how their trademarks may be used, which includes the correct logo, size, color, font and placement on products – all to create a consistent visual identity. Licensors should provide information on how to obtain a license as well as provide a list of approved vendors. This ensures the brand owner knows who has access to its property and where it is coming from. Licensees should educate themselves on the standards the licensor has established. Also, licensees should submit virtual proofs of the products featuring the property’s logo they wish to create. Additionally, licensees need to indicate their products are officially licensed merchandise with the proper hangtags and stickers.