Policies and Guidelines

Use of Marks


The University of Wisconsin–Madison recognizes that the use of its logos, images and names fosters a sense of pride and collective identity within the university community, and can provide potential sources of revenue or other non-financial benefits in support of university programs. These tangible and intangible benefits are beneficial to the entire university community, and, in turn, the state of Wisconsin.

But it’s also necessary to recognize that the university is a public institution and its logos, images or names must serve a public purpose. Thus, university logos, images and names cannot be used in a manner that implies a preference for or endorsement of private businesses and non-university organizations, and must be used in such a way that the University’s reputation and image are protected. Therefore, the university has adopted the following policies applicable to the use of University logos, images and names and marks by university and non-university entities.

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for University Relations has been delegated the authority to administer these policies. Any dispute about these policies or their application must be referred for resolution to the Vice Chancellor for University Relations. Certain decision-making and administrative functions related to these policies may be delegated to other University offices or entities upon appropriate application to and approval by the Vice Chancellor for University Relations.

These policies will be reviewed and revised as needed.

Please review the information below, or contact the Office of the Vice Chancellor for University Relations with questions.


1. Ownership

The University’s official institutional names, logos, symbols, images, photographs and other identifying marks are trademarks, service marks, or other forms of intellectual property (collectively, “marks”) that are owned by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System on behalf of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. There are UW System and UW–Madison policies in place governing the use of marks, including all institutional and athletic logos. These policies are described on this page and can also be found at the Trademark Licensing website.

The University’s trademarks include those set forth by Trademark Licensing and others that may subsequently be adopted, used and/or registered.

2. Appropriate Use of Marks

  • University marks may not be used by non-University entities, or in connection with non-University products or services, without institutional approval. For use of marks on commercial products, such as apparel, approval is granted by the Office of Trademark Licensing. For use of marks on non-commercial but external items, such as non-university Web sites, publications, etc., approvals are granted by the Vice Chancellor for University Relations or designee.
  • No other department, unit, employee, or student of the University is authorized to approve or consent to the use of University marks by a non-University entity.
  • Once approved, the use of University marks by a non-University entity must comply with the University’s licensing policy and usage design specifications and/or the University’s brand and visual identity guidelines.
  • No department, unit, employee or student of the University shall use or develop any variations of University marks without prior written authorization from the Vice Chancellor for University Relations or designee. That office reserves the right to institute a review process for such uses to ensure adherence to these policies.

3. Approval of Uses and Designs

  • The use of University trademarks on any goods, merchandise or service or as part of a promotion or advertisement, must comply with this policy, Regent Policy 27-1 on Collegiate Licensing and the approved usage design specifications listed in the University’s brand and visual guidelines.
  • All depictions of University trademarks, and of all their variations or revisions, must conform to established design specifications. If the use does not conform to those specifications, the Office of Trademark Licensing must approve the use in advance in writing.
  • If the Vice Chancellor for University Relations, or designee, has established conditions that must be satisfied before a request for use of University marks will be approved, the proposed use of marks that was subject of the request may not proceed until the Vice Chancellor, or designee, has confirmed in writing that the conditions have been met.
  • Failure to secure written approval may result in rejection by the University of items purchased that bear unapproved marks, the forfeiture of any advertising/licensing revenue deriving from use of unapproved marks by third parties, or such other remedies as the Vice Chancellor deems appropriate. The campus unit responsible for failure to secure written approval may be billed for forfeited amounts as well as any costs associated with remedying unapproved uses.

4. Approval of Internal Users (Uses by University Departments and Units and Registered Student Organizations)

  • University departments, administrative units and registered student organizations (RSOs) may use the University’s trademarks (including logos and images) on internal publications and other non-commercial items (i.e., posters, books, slides, university Web sites, etc.) as long as the use conforms to established design specifications.
  • In certain limited instances, university departments, administrative units and student organizations (RSOs) may use the University’s trademarks (including logos and images) on external publications that are non-commercial in nature, only after securing written permission from the Vice Chancellor for University Relations or designee. In these instances, the use must conform to established design specifications.
  • Examples of this type include: use of a University mark on an external research sponsor’s web site to denote the University’s participation in a collaborative research project, use of a University trademark in a program for an event at which a faculty member will be conducting a musical or artistic performance, use of University marks in connection with student year books or similar printed matter that are published by external vendors, use of University marks in social media (eg, Facebook, Twitter).
  • For more information on design specifications, or to obtain logo files, please review University Communications Brand and Visual Identity Guidelines.

5. Exclusions

University trademarks may not be used when the use:

  • conflicts with University policies;
  • adversely affects the University’s reputation;
  • is considered to contain obscene, indecent or profane material;
  • ridicules, exploits, or demeans persons on the basis of their age, color, creed, handicap, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation; or
  • promotes tobacco products.

University employees may not individually use University marks or their affiliation with the University in any manner which suggests or implies University support or endorsement of any company, product, political candidate or position regarding public policies, political movement, activity or program. An employee may use the University’s name in making a true and accurate statement of his/her relationship with, or employment by, the University of Wisconsin–Madison. University employees should not use university letterhead bearing University marks to conduct personal business.

Download UW–Madison’s policy on the use of marks (PDF).