Greek trademarks are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office by the each organization to protect the integrity and ownership of their respected property including their crests, coats of arms, organization name and Greek letters as well as any other insignia specific to the organization. The actual National or International organization holds exclusive trademark rights and not an individual member within the Fraternity or Sorority. A common misconception is that some individuals feel that because they are a member of said group, they have the rights to use trademarked property for their own use. This is incorrect.
In the late 80’s, college Fraternal organizations began the process of banding together to develop a system to help protect their names and have control over what is being distributed to their members. This movement to support the growth of the Greek community and protect their image, reputation, as well as their fundamental mission was the birth of today’s Greek Licensing program. The goal of Greek Licensing is to provide a diversity of high quality products and services at a reasonable price while helping maintain the consistent use of trademarks and certain quality control standards.
For the past decade, Affinity Marketing Consultants (AMC) administers the use of trademarks for some of North America’s largest Fraternity and Sorority organizations. AMC currently represents 71 Greek organizations and honorary societies which comprise of more than 330,000 students and over 5 million households throughout the United States and Canada.
To be an officially licensed manufacturer or retailer and distribute products and services such as Fraternity & Sorority merchandise, a company must first be approved by the specific organizations to whom the trademarks are used. Licensed vendors must adhere to strict guidelines set forth to assure that products utilize the official colors and logos of each participating Greek organization in the manner they were indented. For this privilege, licensed vendors pay royalties to the respective organization for the right to appropriately use their trademarks. These royalty payments assist the organizations in funding scholarships, programming and exceptional services to their membership.
Educating the membership on the merits of Greek Licensing and instructing them to purchase products from only licensed vendors is paramount to the success of all parties involved. The Greek community firmly opposes any product or design that attempts to glorify alcohol, hazing, sexism, racism or any other image that conflicts with each organization’s mission statement. Each member of the organization has the responsibility to adhere to their group’s regulations regarding licensing and at the same time help police the industry for trademark infringement. Students should and act locally by holding each other accountable to purchase products only from a licensed vendors and globally to insure that their group’s future reputation and branding message is sound.