FAQ: Copyright Law Issues

Q: How do I represent a proper U-M copyright notice?

A: Although copyrightable works do not require a copyright notice, U-M’s Office of the Vice President and General Counsel (OGC) does recommend that you use one. For works held by U-M, use the following template where the words in all capital letters represent variables you must supply.

Copyright © DATE, The Regents of the University of Michigan
For information, questions, or permission requests please contact

For instance, in the case of this website, U-M uses the following:

Copyright © 2013, The Regents of the University of Michigan
For information, questions, or permission requests please contact:
Office of the Vice President and General Counsel
University of Michigan
1109 Geddes Avenue
Ruthven Building, Suite 2300
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1079
(734) 764-0304 — phone
(734) 763-5648 — fax

Q: With which U-M copyright policies should I be familiar?

A: The OGC recommends that you begin by reviewing SPG 601.28 and the material online, which is U-M’s central copyright page. You should find all relevant U-M policies on this page. If you continue to have copyright related questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Q: What are the ™ and ® notations that appear with U-M name and logos?

A: The ™ symbol indicates that the word, symbol, or design it is placed next to is a trademark. The ® symbol indicates that the trademark is federally registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It is important that these designations are used correctly, as they empower U-M’s enforcement efforts.

Q: What is trademark registration?

A: It is not necessary to register a trademark or service mark to prevent others from infringing upon the trademark; and, many times, U-M will not register a mark. But, for some marks, registration helps us to limit any infringement and to allow U-M to protect its rights. Trademarks generally become protected as soon as they are adopted by an organization and used in commerce, even before registration. Goods or services sold exclusively within one state often are subject to state registration. More commonly, that goods and services are sold through interstate commerce often entitles the trademark to federal registration. With federal registration, the registrant is presumed to be entitled to use the trademark throughout the United States for the goods or services for which the trademark is registered. Other organizations attempting to register the trademark will not be entitled to do so.

Q: What is trademark infringement?

A: Trademark infringement occurs when a company, organization, or individual uses the trademark of another to promote its goods and services. The ultimate issue in infringement cases is whether the public is likely to be confused about the source of the goods or services offered. Determining whether infringement has occurred requires a look at how the trademark is used, and the goods or services that were offered and how closely tied they are in the public mind to the original goods and services.

Q: When do you need a license to use U-M marks?

A: Manufacturers wishing to produce products bearing U-M marks are required to hold a license. Hundreds of companies are currently licensed with U-M to produce in various product categories. U-M constituents are often able to use U-M marks when engaging in activities within the scope of their employment.

Q: Which products can be licensed?

A: Most products will be considered for a license. However, U-M reserves the right to refuse a license to any person, organization or company for any particular product. U-M marks are not to be associated with and no license will be granted for the marketing of alcohol, tobacco, controlled substances, sexually oriented products, gambling, or firearms. U-M marks will not be licensed for use in association with other marks in designs that are deemed to be degrading, demeaning, or reflect poorly on U-M. U-M will not license products that do not meet minimum standards of quality and/or good taste or are judged to be dangerous or carry high product liability risks.

Q: How can I tell if the product I am purchasing is a licensed product?

A: Look for the “Officially Licensed Collegiate Products” label. All licensed collegiate products are marked with this seal, either on the item’s hang tag or the packaging.

Q: What happens if unlicensed merchandise is found in the marketplace?

A: Merchandise produced without written authorization may be considered “counterfeit” and subject to all available legal remedies, including seizure of the merchandise.

Q: What does it mean to be a licensee?

A: A person or organization that has been granted by the licensor the right, under certain conditions, to use licensor’s trademarks.

Q: What is a licensee agreement?

A: A royalty bearing contract granting permission to a licensee to produce specific products bearing the trademarks of the licensor.