Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 1, 2012

‘Flying WV’ generates record-setting royalties

AP Exchange

CHARLESTON (AP) — From T-shirts to shoes to bouquets of roses, it seems almost everything is available with a West Virginia University logo.

T-shirts continue to be the biggest-seller, said Marsha Malone, WVU’s director of trademark licensing. But traditional gear is just the beginning for fans who want to proclaim their college allegiance.

TOMS Shoes is globally recognized for its “One for One” movement, donating a pair of shoes to a child in need for every shoe purchased. WVU fans can buy a pair of TOMS that feature the school’s gold-and-blue with the “Flying WV” logo on the box.

The FTD Rose Program offers distinctive, stem-dyed, blue-and-gold bouquets of 12 to 24 roses, displayed in an etched vase and shipped in a WVU gift box.

Other products adorned with WVU insignia range from duct tape to a toaster to mailbox decals. There’s a cuddly Pillow Pets-brand black bear wearing a coonskin cap and plush blue and gold jersey.

Expected soon: gloves with touch-screen fingers.

It’s all regulated by WVU’s trademark licensing program, which grossed a record-setting $3.5 million in royalties in the 2011-2012 financial year.

“Royalty revenues generated from the sale of officially licensed WVU merchandise help fund university marketing initiatives and provide support for WVU athletic scholarships,” Malone said.

Malone said the WVU trademark-licensing program began in the mid-1980s with the registration of four trademarks: “West Virginia University,” the WVU Seal, the Mountaineer Mascot and the “Flying WV” logo.

The university’s portfolio of trademarks has grown over the years. It now includes “West Virginia” when used in reference to WVU, “Mountaineers,” “WVU,” “Let’s Go Mountaineers!” and “Gold Rush.”

“Currently there are approximately 480 companies licensed for use of the WVU trademarks,” Malone said. “It is difficult to quantify how many retail outlets carry WVU-trademarked merchandise. The availability of WVU-licensed merchandise has grown significantly over the years and the Internet has helped improve availability.

“We do believe that there is a correlation between the success of the sports programs and the increase in sales of licensed products,” she said.

Collegiate Licensing Co. has managed the program for the last four years. Earlier this month the Atlanta, Ga.-based company signed a 10-year contract extension with WVU.

In a press release announcing the extension, Collegiate Licensing Co. said it has enabled WVU to extend its retail presence in the marketplace into new channels of distribution and to expand product selection in current distribution channels including Best Buy, Cracker Barrel, Walmart and Target.

West Virginia University is one of seven schools in the Big 12 Conference represented by Collegiate Licensing Co. The company said it represents nearly 200 colleges, universities, bowl games, athletic conferences, The Heisman Trophy and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Malone said WVU extended its contract with Collegiate Licensing Co. to continue to increase exposure in the marketplace and to help ensure the continued growth of all facets of the university’s licensing program, which includes assisting WVU with the protection and enforcement of its trademark rights.

Payments to WVU from Collegiate Licensing Co. are based on percentages of annual generated revenue, she said.

George Hohmann is a writer for the Charleston Daily Mail.