International Licensing

The international licensing program involves the licensing of Harvard’s trademarks on merchandise such as apparel, stationery, bags, and other such items manufactured and sold outside the United States. While international licensing is administered by the Trademark Program, due to the complexities of international business practices and laws and the need to have a presence in the country or region where there is Harvard licensing activity, the services of professional licensing agents are typically utilized. Agents are primarily responsible for identifying prospective licensees in the territory assigned to them and assisting with the trademark licensing process. They also ensure that licensees comply with the terms of their trademark license agreements such as the timely submission of royalty reports, royalty payments, and artwork; and, in return for their services, receive a percentage of the royalties they collect from licensees.

Becoming an International Agent

Because they represent the University’s licensing program in the international arena, and in that regard the University itself, the Trademark Program takes great care in its selection of international licensing agents and, as a result, requires that prospective candidates meet a specified set of criteria:

International agents must possess a thorough knowledge of their respective territories and of the licensing practices within those territories;
Agents must have proven track records with brand management and development;
Agents must have sound business reputations within their territories and proven records of honesty, accountability, and good stewardship of client accounts;
Agents must have a demonstrated ability to identify companies whose goods and production processes will represent the standards of excellence and ethical practices required by Harvard;
Agents must be able to build and maintain effective business relationships with licensees and, in doing so, represent the licensing standards of Harvard accurately and professionally.

Inquiries regarding the process for becoming an international licensing agent should be directed to the Trademark Program’s email address: trademark_licensing@harvard.edu.

Becoming an International Licensee

As is the case with its domestic licensing program, Harvard takes a conservative approach to the products it allows to bear its trademarks and the companies for which it grants licenses under its international licensing program. License requests are reviewed in light of standards that allow the Trademark Program and its designated licensing agents to assess the appropriateness and quality of the proposed licensed products; the manner in which the University’s trademarks will be used; the marketability of the products; and the company’s history of compliance with business and licensing standards within its territory. Products typically licensed internationally include all types of men’s, women’s, and children’s apparel and accessories, stationery goods and novelty items, and licensees must honor the following license requirements:

Produce products in accordance with Harvard’s licensing standards (in terms of class and quality)
Represent the University’s trademarks appropriately and accurately
Submit product samples for quality assurance and trademark use reviews
Maintain Commercial General Liability Insurance
Maintain membership with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and abide by the FLA Code of Conduct
Submit artwork for review and approval prior to production
Pay an Annual Minimum Guarantee
Submit Royalty Reports and, if applicable, Royalty Payments on a quarterly basis

While most international licensees are represented by licensing agents, a few, whose companies are located in territories without agent representation, are managed directly by the Trademark Program. Once a prospective licensee is approved by the Trademark Program, an international license agreement is entered into between Harvard, the agent (if one is involved), and the licensee. Given the fact that international licenses are usually exclusive (i.e., a license is granted exclusive rights for one category of items, such as apparel, within its territory), the Annual Minimum Guarantee paid by international licensees is usually much higher than the same fee for non-exclusive licensing rights in the United States.

Inquiries regarding the process for becoming an international licensee in a particular country or region should be directed to the Trademark Program’s email address: trademark_licensing@harvard.edu