Use of University Name and Trademarks by External Organizations

No Endorsements: The proposed uses will be reviewed to ensure they do not imply endorsement. Neither the name of the University nor any University trademark, including University colors, may be used in any way that states or implies endorsement of a commercial product or service, gives a false impression, is misleading, or could cause confusion regarding the University’s relationship with any person or entity. Statements that the University is a user or purchaser of a product or program are permitted if true. For more information see Brand Policy: Trademarks, Logos, Colors, and Seal

External companies (vendors) may identify the university as a client and describe in factual terms the product or service provided. They may not use any University marks for any purpose unless the use is for University-facing applications or services.

University units may not provide testimonial quotes about a product or service received from a vendor. Statements that the University is a user or purchaser of a product or program are permitted if true. Because requests for endorsements often come in the form of statements in press releases, websites, videos, and print media, before disseminating a communication that refers to a commercial entity, product or service, you should request a review by University Relations (email/phone).

There are only three scenarios in which a third party may be allowed to use the University’s name and/or trademarks:

  1. The third-party (an external entity) has entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with a University department or unit that includes use of the University name or trademarks to factually convey this newly formed relationship. All MOAs need to be reviewed and approved by OGC and any use of University name and/or trademarks will be reviewed by University Relations prior to approval. See: “External Collaborations” for additional guidance.
  2. A third party has entered into a licensing agreement with the University through the University’s licensing program. All licensing agreements are subject to review by the University and the licensing agency to ensure they comply with licensing protocols and don’t have the potential to negatively affect the University’s reputation.
    1. All purchases bearing any registered trademark of the university must be made by a manufacturer licensed by the university.
  3. The third-party has entered into a formal sponsorship to support the University’s mission through funding or other sponsorship contribution.
    1. “Formal Sponsorship” is defined as a written agreement signed by both parties stating the parameters of sponsorship, benefit to the unit, and any terms and conditions. It must be reviewed and approved by the Office of the General Counsel.
    2. A sponsor's use of University trademarks should clearly convey the nature of their relationship with the University through a sponsorship designation.

Use of UMN Trademarks by Sponsors - General Guidelines

Below is information and guidance for third-party organizations that have entered into a formal sponsorship to support the University’s mission through funding or other sponsorship contributions. 

  1. “Formal Sponsorship” is defined as a written agreement signed by both parties stating the parameters of sponsorship, benefit to the U of M unit, and any terms and conditions. It must be reviewed and approved by the Office of the General Counsel.
  2. A sponsor's mark may be displayed but only on signage or printed programs for the activity or event and they must be accompanied with a sponsorship statement such as: "Company ABC is a proud sponsor of Welcome Week," or "Thank you sponsors" with a list of the sponsors in text or equal display of their marks who have supported the activity or event. Sponsor logos may not be displayed on umn.edu or other University digital channels. Recognition of sponsors in these channels should be done in text.

Often sponsors ask to post UMN trademarks in their communications to proudly state their support for the University unit they are sponsoring. A sponsorship agreement is required. If use of University trademarks is documented in the sponsorship agreement, the sponsor would be allowed to use the University trademarks but will need to comply with the following standards: 

  • Sponsors may promote their sponsorships through their own communications and advertisements, point-of-sale signage, other print materials, premium giveaways.
  • In no way should any sponsor communication imply that the University endorses the sponsor or its products or give the impression that the communication is coming from the University of Minnesota. As such, the use of University marks should be secondary and smaller in size to the display of the sponsor marks. 
  • The use of University trademarks by sponsors is limited to indicating their support/proud sponsorship of the University unit they are sponsoring. University trademarks should not be combined with a sponsor’s brand/mark or for sponsor use to imply any other relationship that isn’t captured by a formal agreement. 
  • Sponsor advertisements should never display any University of Minnesota trademarks. By its nature, an advertisement promotes the sponsor’s products or services. A sponsor can advertise their products and at the end of the message indicate their support of/sponsorship of a University unit by including the sponsor statement: “Proud Sponsor of Gopher Athletics.” The sponsor statement could include the Block M for visual reference of the University but the advertisement should not include any other reference of the University of Minnesota or the UMN unit. 
  • The following trademarks may be used to promote a sponsorship:
    • Block M
    • Goldy Gopher or the relevant system campus mascot mark
    • Maroon and Gold may also be used.
  • University Trademarks may not be altered.
  • University and sponsor trademarks must always be visually separated so as not to appear combined.
    Examples of inappropriate use of the Block M
  • All uses of University trademarks by sponsors must be accompanied by the following statement:
  • Proud sponsor of <Department/Event Name>
  • Sponsors may also use the above designation in writing on sponsor materials without logos.
  • Premium giveaways or promotional merchandise must be purchased from officially licensed vendors. Contact Greg Berkowitz at berko056@umn.edu for a list of vendors.

Questions about these guidelines? Please reach out to University Relations by filling out z.umn.edu/URbrand

Related Resources

Guidelines