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Use of college and university names

Discussion in 'Copyright, Trademark, Patent Law' started by indigo22, Jul 13, 2009.

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  1. indigo22

    indigo22 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    My jurisdiction is: USA

    I run a medium sized web-based business that provides academic consulting services for current and prospective students. As part of a redesign effort, we are attempting to launch service packages tailored to students applying to particular universities. We would like to have a Harvard Package for students applying to Harvard, a Princeton Package for students applying to Princeton, etc. None of the information on our web space would imply any relationship with the individual universities, use trademarked insignia, damage university reputations, nor would it reasonably be mistaken for an official university website. We would also use the standard disclaimer indicating that university name X is a trademark of Y and used without permission. Of course, trademark notices for the universities in question all require written permission for anyone to use the university name in any capacity. My questions are as follows:

    1) To what extent am I protected in my use of a trademarked university name if it is essential to the description of the company's services? Surely I'm allowed to say that we provide services specific to Yale University rather than services for "an Ivy League school in New Haven", aren't I?

    2) Can the university names reasonably be used as titles of the service packages themselves? Could there indeed be a Yale Package or would it need to be "Package 263" where Package 263 is explicitly a service package for incoming Yale students?

    3) Carrying the example a step further, could I also quote (with attribution) a brief passage or two from the Yale application form? We're talking a paragraph or so of text, not a wholesale copy-paste job.

    Thanks in advance!!
     
  2. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    I haven't seen any of your materials nor reviewed the work you've done. So tale what I will say fwiw. I don't think you have any problem with descriptive names for your products to each school, especially if there is no question of the origin of the service an that it is clearly descriptive. Regarding the words from the form, I can't tell you more without context. I do not think there would be a copyright issue and probably fall within fair use. Chances are if you are clear and not causing confusion or usin an offensive amount of content, you shouldn't have problems. Danger occurs when there is confusion and it may result in lost revenue to the rights holder. Good luck.
     
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