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What is a trademark? What is a license?
As defined by the US Patents & Trademarks Office, a trademark is a “word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.”

A license is a legal agreement between the trademark holder (licensor) and an outside entity (licensee). The licensor grants permission to the licensee to use the licensor’s trademarks.

What trademarks does UNC-Chapel Hill own? Are all of UNC-Chapel Hill’s trademarks shown on the brand sheet?
A list of UNC-Chapel Hill’s trademarks can be found in the logo sheet. The marks shown are the most frequently utilized. It is not an exhaustive list of all trademarks owned by the University.

The language and logos protected by the University include, but are not limited to, the words “University of North Carolina”, “North Carolina” , “Carolina”, “UNC”, “Tar Heels”, “Heels” and logos of the Old Well, the University seal, the interlocking NC, the Tar Heel foot and the Strutting Ram.

When do I need a license?
You will need a license if:

  • You or your business/organization wishes to use the UNC-Chapel Hill’s trademarks on any product that is to be sold. Please visit the Prospective Licensees section to learn more about applying for a license.
  • You or your business/organization wishes to use any of UNC-Chapel Hill’s trademarks in any type of advertisement to promote the sale of your goods or services. Examples would include print advertisements, radio spots, TV spots, etc.
  • You or your business/organization wishes to use any of UNC-Chapel Hill’s trademarks to drive business to your organization in other ways.
I am making a handmade item for myself, family member or friend but won’t sell the item. Do I need a license?
If you are making an item yourself that will not be sold or used for commercial purposes, you do not need a license.
I would like to have a product made to distribute to my employees and/or customers that features my company’s logo, as well as the UNC-Chapel Hill logo. Do I need a license?
Yes. However, the use of UNC marks in connection with a company is reserved for official, corporate partners of the University. If you questions regarding purchasing the co-branded product or becoming a corporate partner, please contact our office.
How can I tell if a product is officially licensed?
Look for the Officially Licensed Collegiate Product hologram sticker. This sticker assures you that the product onto which the sticker is affixed has been approved for sale by UNC-Chapel Hill.
Why is it important to only purchase officially licensed merchandise?
Each time you purchase a licensed product, a portion of your purchase helps support need and merit-based scholarship programs that allow the university to continue to retain its national reputation and stature.

As a trademark holder, the University is also legally mandated to ensure that only entities with the proper licensing agreement in place are allowed to use UNC-Chapel Hill trademarks for commercial purposes.

What can I do if I find a product that appears to be unlicensed?
Please fill out the Unlicensed Product Reporting Form. Please note that you can remain anonymous. To report a violation of licensing or trademark use, please contact the Office of Business Development or report the violation by email.
Can I set up a booth on campus to sell my UNC-Chapel Hill merchandise on days of athletics events?
Due to space limitations and current contractual arrangements, we do not allow outside entities to sell their licensed UNC-Chapel Hill merchandise on campus on any University game day.
The words “North Carolina”, “Carolina” and “Tar Heels” are trademarked by the University, but these are common words. How do I know whether I need permission to use these trademarks?
As a general rule, when UNC-Chapel Hill’s color scheme or any other UNC-Chapel Hill identifier is used in connection with these words to reference the University and not the state of North Carolina in a commercial manner, you will need a license.
I have a great idea for a Carolina product. Who do I contact?
Please review the Prospective Licensees section. Be advised that neither the UNC-Chapel Hill’s request for information from you regarding any of your products, services or ideas nor your reply to the request for information (nor your voluntary unsolicited submission) constitutes an offer to contract or a solicitation by the University to your company. Should the University wish to make such an offer for a contract or license, your company will be required to submit to an application.
I want to purchase an item to be given away. Why does it have to be licensed?
UNC’s licensing agreements with manufacturers include provisions related to product quality and safety, product liability protections for the University and/or campus group and, a commitment to the University’s code of conduct during the sourcing and production of the item. In addition, should an issue arise with your order, the trademark and licensing office has the ability to assist you in resolving the matter.
I would like to order a cake featuring UNC marks. What do I need to do?
A bakery needs authorization from the University in order to use UNC marks on a cake or other baked goods. Our office can provide that authorization. Please fill out the Trademarks and Licensing Contact Form and provide the following information:

  • a description of the event where the cake will be used
  • name and contact information of the bakery
  • the UNC logos(s) you wish to use on the cake