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After a controversial Resolution was introduced at student government last week, officials from the University Trademark and Licensing came to discuss the new trademark policy. Michael Norton, University Council, and Leesha Zimmerman, Director of Trademark Licensing, answered questions from senators. 

Iowa State released a statement to student organizations over the implementation of the trademark policy Monday, a topic that has garnered incessant criticism from affected groups.

The policy, which was implemented at the beginning of the semester, forbids certain symbols and words within Iowa State club names and logos. Student organizations have said they feel the change came too quickly and without enough notice to be implemented without issue.

“Thank you for your interest and concern regarding the recently modified Guidelines for University Trademark Use by Student and Campus Organizations (Guidelines),” the opening of the letter sent by the university trademark office reads. “We value your input as representatives of the student body.”

The letter explains the purpose, process and means through which the policy was implemented, going through the Trademark Advisory Committee (TAC) of which one current member of Student Government was present.

This months long discussion was criticized by members of Student Government and from student organizations for not having enough student representation or input.

“Not a single student club was present at these meetings,” said Student Government Speaker Cody Woodruff. “There was just one student representative, there was never a formal vote at these meetings, and there was never any minutes taken at these meetings.”

In the face of this criticism, the TAC will be expanding its representation among students on the committee, according to the letter.

The reason for the implementation was also explained in the letter — another point of contention between Student Government and the Iowa State Trademark Office.

Whereas University Counsel Michael Norton had said the court case between the Iowa State chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws’ (NORML) and the university had nothing to do with the implementation of the policy at a Student Government meeting in August, the letter said the policy was “certainly influenced” by court cases across the country, including the NORML lawsuit.

The letter explains how the policy was implemented to protect the universities brand while being able to stay consistent under the First Amendment, and says the best phrase they found to demonstrate this in club titles was “at ISU” rather than having “ISU” before a name.

The trademark office will continue to look for student input and input from Student Government according to the letter, but Woodruff said the impression he has gotten from students about the letter has been entirely negative.

“It seems to have made student organizations more angry, it is getting worse not better,” Woodruff said. “The university still hasn’t apologized for their miscommunication, they still haven’t claimed any responsibility … This response is more of the same, telling students they are just associated with the university. We aren’t associated with the university, we are the university.”

A recent letter from the university outlined their decision behind their trademark policy.

(2) comments

Alis Town

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Adrian Baritio

A trademark is a symbol, word or phrase that identifies the source of a product or service. Trademarks are valuable business assets that help consumers distinguish a particular brand in the marketplace. Trademark violations can diminish a brand's value and popularity, costing a business sales and profit. A lawful owner of a registered trademark can call upon trademark opposition jacksonville to protect their intellectual property by bringing a civil lawsuit. Civil litigation penalties for trademark violation include injunctions and monetary damages.

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