BYU keeps wary eye on where logo goes
Use of licensing, trademark is carefully controlled
Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
PROVO As BYU's licensing and trademark specialist, Brett Eden regularly receives proposals from national manufacturers to produce and sell all kinds of apparel with the BYU logo on it.
Some proposals are stranger than others.
One company sent Eden a memorable photo of lingerie emblazoned with a BYU logo. Needless to say, it was deemed much too risque for the buttoned-down private school, which is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"The company must not have been too familiar with BYU," recalls Eden with a chuckle.
"We passed the photo around the office and got a good laugh before we told them, 'No, thanks.' "
Businesses who want to create paraphernalia that includes the name of the school "Brigham Young University" or "BYU" must go through a detailed licensing process, which includes obtaining permission from the school.
Proposals that aren't in line with the church's ideals are rejected.
"Our goal," says Eden, "is to protect an image."
While BYU does not want the school's name embossed on lingerie, thong-style underwear or halter tops popular items at other college campuses BYU boxer shorts are available.
"It's a borderline item," says Eden. "They're quite popular with women."
Collegiate-licensed product manufacturing is a booming business around the country and companies are trying to capitalize. One of the biggest areas of growth in sports-related merchandise is clothing designed for the female market. "The women's line has really taken off," says BYU Bookstore Director Roger Reynolds. "It's our biggest area of growth."
In recent years, sports-merchandise manufacturers have been targeting female fans of athletic teams. It used to be, for instance, that BYU-related apparel was available only in blue. Now, products such as hooded BYU sweatshirts can be found in pink, orange and green.
"We're seeing modifications that customers are really accepting. It's allowed the university to be more fashion-oriented," Reynolds said. "An old, baggy sweatshirt doesn't do it anymore."
Women, apparently, have been asking for more apparel. "Women tell us what they want," says John Lewis, BYU associate advancement vice president of alumni and external relations.
Eden tracks sales of all BYU merchandise. He says fleece jackets are the most popular.
Sweatshirts are also hot items. "Maybe that has to do with the colder climate we have in Provo compared to many other big schools," says Eden.
Meanwhile, BYU lags behind other major schools in, among other things, the sales of youth clothing. Eden says that's surprising, considering BYU-fan households are known for having at least a few children.
Once a company is licensed to produce BYU merchandise, it pays a fee, then must give BYU a 7.5 percent royalty on sales. Eden's job requires a vigorous safeguarding of the BYU trademark.
He has walked around local malls to ensure that vendors are offering officially licensed apparel. On occasion, he has found violators. Eden simply asks vendors to stop selling the unlicensed products. "We usually just ask them to quit doing it," he says.Some violations have been committed by people who print up homemade T-shirts and try selling them at BYU sporting events. "We've confiscated stashes of T-shirts before, especially at BYU-Utah games," says Eden. "Some people like to make rivalry shirts that are somewhat vulgar. We don't see it too much anymore."
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