Revisions made to ISU trademark guidelines for student organizations

Leesha Zimmerman works in the Trademark Office. A new policy is in effect about the ISU trademark. If organizations are affiliated and sponsored with the campus, they will still be able to use the trademarks. Others still have the freedom to create any design with Iowa State on it, but they will not be able to use the trademarks. If they want to be at the same standards, they will have to talk to Student Activities Center about getting their organization the same rights. The designs still have to be approved by the office, though.

Daniel Bush

A revision has been made to the guidelines for university trademark use by student and campus organizations that changed general principles on how certain organizations can use ISU names, symbols, logos and other identifying marks.

The revision in January 2013 helped align the guidelines with the Student Organization Recognition policy, said Leesha Zimmerman, trademark officer at Iowa State.

“Trademark guidelines follow the tiering system set by SAC [Student Activities Center], which has three tiers of organizations: sponsored, affiliated and registered,” Zimmerman said.

The guidelines focus on the three tiers and describe how certain organizations can use the marks (names, symbols, logos, etc.).

Sponsored and affiliated organizations are directly connected to the university through a department or the university itself. Registered organizations don’t have that connection.

“Since the sponsored and affiliated groups have a direct tie to the university,” Zimmerman said, “these groups will continue to be allowed to use most of the university’s indicia as long as design standards and procedures are followed.”

Registered organizations are only allowed to use word marks, such as ISU, Iowa State or Iowa State University.

Kayla Nielsen, graduate in business administration and graduate adviser of ISU AfterDark, shared her opinion on the guidelines.

“I think the Iowa State University reputation is an outstanding one, and they want to make sure that they are approving of all organizations or students or individuals who want to use that name to further their own brand,” Nielsen said.

Organizations can only use the names and marks of the university for identifying them as being a part of ISU, unless they are granted permission by the university, according to the guidelines.

“The trademark policy and guidelines are in place to assist and help the trademark office be consistent with how use is allowed,” Zimmerman said.

The Trademark Office supplies a procedure in three steps so organizations can design, create and use the marks of ISU.

Organizations must go through a licensed vendor.

There is an online form that needs to be filled out for the permission of using the marks.

The last thing is that organizations must do is submit their design, which needs to be approved by the Trademark Office.

“We try to keep it an easy process and have been successful in doing this electronically,” Zimmerman said.

There are designs that will automatically be denied.

According to the guidelines, “designs that contain vulgar, inappropriate or insensitive language, profanity, or words with inappropriate double meanings will not be approved.”

While change can be good, some find it hard to adjust to change.

“I think when procedures or benefits change, there are some growing pains,” said George Micalone, director of student activities.

Micalone continued to say that the initial denial of a request could sting because of the revision that some organizations aren’t aware of yet.

Nicholas Clobes, senior in construction engineering and president of ISU AfterDark, shared his thoughts on the impact of the guidelines for organizations.

“I don’t think it really slows them down,” Clobes said.

“I would encourage any registered organization to review how they are currently tiered and if they feel they need an adjustment to visit with SAC,” Zimmerman said.