Harvard’s Name and Alcoholic Beverages

Use of Harvard's name or image in labeling alcoholic beverages is not allowed, even if the beverage is to be used as a gift or served only at Harvard functions. The 1999 statement detailing the rationale appears below.

Use of Harvard's Name and Alcoholic Beverages

Issued by the Office of the Provost, January 1999

Recently, there have been several internal requests to apply the Harvard name and related images to bottles containing alcoholic beverages. In some cases, the request involved the sale of commemorative wine. In other cases, the Harvard-labeled wine would be served at special functions or given away.

With respect to commercial purposes, our policy is clear and longstanding: we do not license the name or images associated with Harvard University for labeling or promoting the sale of alcoholic beverages. After consultation with colleagues and careful reflection, it has been decided that Harvard's name or images should not be used in labeling alcoholic beverages, even when the beverage is to be served at a Harvard function or distributed as a gift.

Activities at the College and elsewhere on campus have focused on educating Harvard students about the dangers of excessive drinking. After the tragic alcohol-related death of an MIT student in 1998, Harvard intensified review of its policies related to alcohol. Most recently, Harvard University, in conjunction with two dozen colleges in the Boston area, announced a 50-point plan to reduce abuse of alcohol on campus.

The responsible consumption of wine and other alcoholic beverages certainly enhances the conviviality and pleasure of many dinners and celebrations. It is altogether appropriate that wine and other alcoholic beverages be served responsibly at appropriate University functions. At the same time, many students and others underestimate the risks and prevalence of alcohol abuse. It is desirable to send a consistent message about these risks and in particular to avoid the impression of endorsement that comes with a label that would bear the name or images of Harvard University. Furthermore, on at least one occasion, wine bearing a Harvard label was inadvertently placed for sale at a liquor store. Despite the intention to use such wine only at University occasions, we cannot guarantee that University officials would always be in a position to oversee the responsible use of Harvard-labeled alcoholic beverages.

In light of these considerations, the use of Harvard's name or related images in labeling alcoholic beverages is prohibited.

Please contact the Trademark Program with any questions (trademark_program@harvard.edu or 617-495-9513).

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See also: Policies