LISD trademark program is in its fourth year, starts to raise money

VHS logoBy CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News

A new Trademark and Licensing Program in Leander ISD is helping to protect the district’s logos and designs and also generate revenue for items such as teacher salaries and daily operating expenses.

The idea for the program came about when district officials realized that for-profit retailers were selling merchandise that had school logos and designs on it but the sales were not benefiting the schools in any way.

“That revenue was going to that for-profit retailer instead of the district or booster club,” said Veronica Sopher, assistant superintendent of community and  governmental relations.

CRMS logoUnder the program, any entity that sells school merchandise that will be purchased by the public is now required to pay a 10 percent royalty on the retail sales price and affix an authenticating hang tag to identify the merchandise as officially licensed. One-fourth of the royalty pays for the cost of licensing and administering the program. The remaining three-fourths is returned as revenue to the district to support its programs.

FPMS logoThere are exceptions though. Any product used by the school or school organizations for official school use is exempt, such as team apparel or school uniforms.  LISD also exempted student organizations, PTAs, booster clubs, and other like groups from the 75 percent share.  These organizations would only contribute to the legal costs of administering the program, at a rate of 25 percent of 10 percent. For example, they would only pay a 25 cent fee on a $10 item.

Since launching nearly four years ago, the Trademark and Licensing program has raised $685 in royalty payments for the district. After launching, it took about six months to complete the trademarking process for each of the five high schools’ service marks, trade names, designs, logos, seals and symbols. The initial licensing fees went directly to SABRE Trademark and Licensing, the company hired to manage the program, in order to pay off the district’s legal fees for obtaining the trademarks, according to LISD Marketing Specialist Laura Weiss.

“Each high school campus was a $1,250 expense in order to trademark their respective marks,” Weiss said. “So, over time, this debt to SABRE has been paid down and the district is now receiving royalty payments.”

Currently, the Trademark and Licensing Program is only being implemented at the secondary level and does not  impact elementary campuses, elementary PTAs or their fundraisers.

Weiss said over time, the process has gotten easier, as the district has worked to educate the public about the importance of compliance in protecting the district’s assets.

“Our community business partners are gradually coming on board as well, and many actually like having officially licensed high school products in their stores,” Weiss said. “They also know the logos are correct and that they are giving back to the district with every purchase.”

She said one of the biggest challenges is third-party vendors that produce product without the proper licenses and approvals.

“Local businesses who wish to support LISD are advised to note that companies selling advertising and claiming to represent the district, including campuses and departments, are not authorized to use LISD images, campus logos or school brands (unless they have written proof of permission) and are in violation of the district’s contract with SABRE Trademark and Licensing,” Weiss said. “Additionally, the dollars they are soliciting are typically kept by the vendor and do not benefit LISD schools.”

If a business or booster club is found using a logo on merchandise without the correct license, they could receive a Cease and Desist letter from SABRE and/or LISD explaining the T&L program and a request to comply. Additional communication is sent if they do not adhere to the program with the potential for legal action if non-compliance blatantly continues.

“Most of the time, this is not an issue as businesses typically want to follow the rules and the law,” Weiss said.

There are currently more than 50 licensed vendors, or authorized licensed retailers, that are currently listed in the SABRE database. Weiss said that list grows regularly with new retailers that produce licensed products for campuses, approved booster clubs and community business partners.

“It is an easy process to become an authorized licensed retailer in the LISD Trademark and Licensing program,” Weiss said. “Visit the SABRE website and fill out your business information when you go to make your first licensing tag/sticker purchase and you are put on their approved vendor list. It’s that easy.”