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Trademark Licensing Office

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Merchandise Order Policy

There are three important components to Vanderbilt's Merchandise Order Policy:

  1. "Vanderbilt" merchandise procurement
  2. Licensing and manufacturing of the product
  3. When and how sales tax applies

"Vanderbilt" Merchandise Procurement

Due to all contractual obligations to the University, all orders for merchandise branding (whether for promotional giveaways, for resale, or for a suggested donation), must be reviewed by Vanderbilt Trademark Licensing prior to an order being placed.

To request a review, individuals placing such orders for departments or student organizations must submit the online Merchandise Request Form. It is recommended that you submit this form at least 4 weeks prior to the desired delivery date. Doing so will ensure adequate time for both the approval process and the production of your order.

Because of the sales tax issues, discussed below, student organizations, and departments with limited experience and resources, are required to submit all merchandise orders - with and without Vanderbilt marks  (e.g. Vanderbilt word mark, official university logo) - through the Trademark Licensing process to ensure compliance with University policies and government statutes related to sales tax.

University's Trademark Licensing Policies:

The University's Trademark Licensing office oversees the use of the University's trademarks on products and services. The Trademark Licensing office works closely with Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) to ensure that products are being produced by licensed vendors. Please note: All product orders, even orders that do not include university and medical center marks, must still adhere to the trademark policies.

Designs must be approved by the Trademark Licensing office before production on an item may begin. The University's royalty rate (the fee to use the marks) is 12% on products. This rate does not typically apply to orders placed by University departments and student organizations. For more information, please visit the Trademark Licensing web site at www.vanderbilt.edu/licensing.

Sales Tax:

Internal Use Orders (Promotional Giveaways): These are giveaways where there is no money exchange. These orders are tax exempt.

Orders placed for internal use are tax-exempt. These products may be used internally by your department or organization or given away as a promotional item (e.g., a staff polo shirt, a club uniform, a mug, a pen, etc.).

Fundraising "Suggested Donation" Orders: The item must be distributed for a "suggested donation." The item must be provided even if the recipient pays much less than what was suggested. These orders are tax exempt.

Again, for sales tax purposes, an item distributed for a specified "suggested donation" is considered an item for "internal use," and sales tax is not paid when the item is ordered, or when it is distributed. When the merchandise is distributed for a specified "suggested donation," the department or student organization must provide the item for any amount offered by the donor, including NOTHING. Departments and student organizations that wish to offer items using this method must understand that there is a risk of having to surrender the product for FREE or a fraction of the cost and that they could actually lose money.

Resale Orders: When you "sell" an item at a specified amount, you must charge, collect and remit sales tax.

Sales tax is not paid at the time the merchandise is ordered. When selling the merchandise, the department or student organization must charge, collect, and remit the sales tax, even for orders sold at cost. For information regarding how to comply with this requirement, visit http://www.vanderbilt.edu/accounting/FunctionalDepts.php and call or write the individual listed next to "Sales & Amusement Tax Information." http://www.vanderbilt.edu/licensing/documents/TNCertificateofResale.pdf

Placing an Order:

Complete the Merchandise Request Form.

  • This form should be the first step in your process of obtaining products.
  • We recommend that you complete this form 4 weeks before the desired date to allow for necessary approvals and vendor production.
  • Indicate on the form whether the merchandise is for Internal Use (including an item for "Suggested Donation"), or for Resale. Keep in mind that for Internal Use orders, sales tax does not apply. For Resale orders, sales tax does apply.
  • Provide as much detail as possible. For example, where will you sell the item, how you will offer the item, how many you want to order, etc.
  • Trademark Licensing will review the information provided on the Merchandise Request form and will reply to you an your licensed Vanderbilt vendor on your order.

Use a Licensed Vanderbilt vendor to design and place your order.

  • For a list of Internal Campus Suppliers for Vanderbilt, please visit the Trademark Licensing web site at www.vanderbilt.edu/licensing.
  • Have the licensed Vanderbilt vendor submit the design through CLC's online art approval system.
  • The licensed Vanderbilt vendor is required to submit your design online through CLC's art approval system. The Trademark Licensing Office will work with your vendor to make sure your design meets the university's graphic standards.
  • Once the design is approved by the Trademark Licensing Office, production can begin.