Protecting the brand
In the meantime, the University has taken steps to protect the use of trademark language and logos, as they represent the University’s values and traditions.
After the University won the national men’s basketball championship in 1982, the increasing demands for UNC brands pushed the University to take action to protect its logos and trademarks. The merchandising became a profitable business for the University to support scholarships and financial aid.
Derek Lochbaum, director of UNC Trademarks and Licensing, said the University’s merchandising started in October 1982, a month after the University won the basketball national championship.
Nicholas Graham, a University archivist, said UNC started its merchandising business following a national trend of big universities doing the same thing.
“A lot of other, you know, big schools had seen the demands for merchandise,” he said.
“For UNC in particular, in 1982, the spring and summer was, you know, just not long after UNC won the basketball national championship and had arguably the most recognizable basketball player in the country, Michael Jordan.”
Graham said the University’s popularity at that time and its rich alumni base put UNC brands in constant demand.
“The popularity of the University, with alumni all over the world, and also that increasing visibility of the University through its athletic programs made the merchandise in demand,” he said.
Moore, the UNC historian, said the University is keen to protect its trademarks because the University wants to promote its positive image.
“We are very diligent in protecting in that trademark, in part because we care about our image as a University, but also because that revenue goes towards scholarships, so we want to make sure, you know, we are collecting it.”
Lochbaum said the University wants its merchandising business to achieve three P’s: protection, promotion and profit.
Lochbaum said all the revenue of the licensing office goes directly to the Office of Scholarships & Student Aid.
“First of all, 100 percent of all net revenue from the trademark licensing program directs toward student scholarships of the University,” he said.
Lochbaum said the revenue of merchandising was about $3.5 million for one year. Lochbaum said 75 percent of the revenue is used for need-based scholarships and 25 percent of the revenue is used for merit-based scholarships.
The biggest customers of UNC licensing include UNC Student Stores, Wal-Mart and Finish Line.
Lochbaum said the common bond between people who have connections with the University is what really supports the merchandising business.
“The one thing that we all have in common is that we are all Tar Heels, and we have love for this university.”