One thing that always surprises people when I tell them what I do is that I actually have a license with the Ohio State University to make my shirts. The surprise stems from the fact that it’s difficult to receive a license and most people wouldn’t know how to go about applying for one. When I first created the Jim Tressel T-Shirt, I asked all around for help with the application process. Most people, having never applied for a license, didn’t know about the process or, those that had, wouldn’t offer any help. This forced me to figure it out all on my own.
Fortunately, OSU is an independent university and their Trademark and Licensing Departmentis very willing to help. Being independent means that the Ohio State University, through their Trademark and Licensing Department, reviews all applications and either approves or denies them. Most universities outsource to a third party for licensing. The two primary organizations that handle this are the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) and the Licensing Resource Group(LRG). Generally speaking, the CLC covers the larger universities (Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas, Florida) and the LRG specializes in smaller universities (BGSU, Akron, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech).
Ohio State makes it very easy to apply for a license. Their application can be downloaded online by anyone who wants to apply. They provide very clear guidelines for applicants:
While completing my application, any questions I had were politely answered by Trademark and Licensing – and I had quite a few. I was very unsure about the efficacy of my application. The only thing I felt certain about was the swift dismissal I’d receive. All applications are reviewed by the committee on the second Tuesday of each month. I mailed mine in on Thursday. The following Friday, I received approval…and thus, my real problems began.
The success of my application hinged on two key factors: its novelty and the willingness of Ohio State to take a risk on a young entrepreneur. The Jim Tressel T-Shirt was unlike anything they had ever seen before. I was not the first person to come up with the idea, I was just the first person to approach tOSU with idea. I presented it in a unique way – as two shirts sewn together rather than a simple silkscreen. Incidentally, this creativity is just what they were looking for. The second factor may be more important. Most schools would have easily dismissed me as inexperienced and incapable of fulfilling their expectations. Ohio State’s Trademark and Licensing is led by Rick Van Brimmer who appreciates the young entrepreneur with big ideas and, the University as a whole, sells more licensed merchandise than any other university in the country. This means they can take an occasional risk on someone with an exciting idea.
Applying for a license with the Ohio State University? Let me know. I can help.