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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 and royalties apply

Vanderbilt Merchandise Procurement

Due to contractual obligations to the University, all merchandise orders that include apparel, promotional products, uniforms and awards must be reviewed by Vanderbilt Trademark Licensing prior to an order being placed.

To request a review, individuals placing such orders 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.

Please note: You may submit one Merchandise Request Form for multiple items, e.g., apparel, uniforms, promotional products if all items are in the same category. For example, all items are being offered as Internal Use/Promotional Giveaways. Multiple Merchandise Request Forms should be submitted if items are in different categories, e.g., Internal Use/Promotional Giveaway, Fundraiser/Suggested Donation,  Purchase for Resale, Distribution to VU/VUMC Personnel for Reimbursement of the Cost of the Item, Payment with non VU/VUMC Funds

For the ordering and payment process steps click here.

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 marks, should 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 apply to orders placed for "Internal Use/Promotional Giveaways","Fundraiser/Suggested Donation".

Sales Tax:

Although Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center are tax-exempt non-profit organizations there are certain situations where sales tax may need to be collected by a vendor at the time of purchase or where sales tax may need to be collected by Vanderbilt or Vanderbilt University Medical Center upon distribution of purchased items.

Depending on the primary purpose/intended use of the item being purchased and who is paying for the item, sales tax will or will not be collected at the time of purchase, and sales tax will or will not need to be collected when the product is distributed.

Internal Use/Promotional Giveaway:
These items are purchased with VU/VUMC funds for promotional giveaway or for internal university or medical center use e.g., pens given away at a conference and polo shirts or uniforms given to employees. These orders are exempt from sales tax.

Special Note: While changing the primary purpose of property previously purchased is discouraged, in the event left over “internal use/promotional giveaway” items are subsequently sold for a specified price, the transaction is then treated as a “sale for resale” and the sale of the item is subject to sales tax (see “sales for resale” below).

Fundraising/Suggested Donation:
These items are purchased with VU/VUMC funds to be given away at fundraising events/campaigns as tokens of appreciation to donors making contributions. Under this arrangement, the event organizer will request donors provide “suggested donations of a specified amount”, and upon receipt of a donation will give the item to the donor as a token of appreciation for the donation. However, the item must be distributed to the donor even if the donor contributes less than the suggested donation e.g., the event organizer posts a sign requesting a suggested donation amount of $20 and upon receipt of a donation of $5 the item must still be given to the donor as a token of appreciation. These orders are exempt from sales tax.

Special Note: While changing the primary purpose of property previously purchased is discouraged, in the event left over “fundraising/suggested donation” items are subsequently sold for a specified price, the transaction is then treated as a “sale for resale” and the sale of the item is subject to sales tax (see “sales for resale” below).

Distribution to VU/VUMC Personnel for Reimbursement of the Cost of the Item:
These items are purchased with Vanderbilt/VUMC funds, for distribution to Vanderbilt/VUMC personnel (Faculty, staff, students etc.) in exchange for reimbursement of the cost of the item e.g., lab coats, staff polo shirts or uniforms sold at total invoice cost to Vanderbilt/VUMC personnel. These orders are subject to sales tax at the time of purchase from the vendor.

Special Note: Since the amount paid by Vanderbilt/VUMC personnel is considered a reimbursement, the amount collected from the personnel must not exceed the invoiced cost paid for the items by Vanderbilt/VUMC (including taxes, fees and handling). If the cost to the personnel exceeds the total invoiced price paid by Vanderbilt/VUMC, the transaction no longer constitutes a reimbursement and the excess amount charged is subject to sales tax. This practice is highly discouraged.

Purchase for Resale:
These items are purchased with VU/VUMC funds and are subsequently resold for a profit. These transactions are infrequent and isolated and may only be conducted with the approval of an appropriate business/administrative officer. At the time of purchase, these orders are exempt from sales tax. At the time of sale, the item is subject to sales tax in the amount of the applicable sales tax rate (9.25% for sales occurring in Davidson County) times the taxable sales price.

Special Note: As soon as sales tax applies to post purchase transactions, you must charge and collect the sales tax. This tax must be reported and remitted by the 5th day of the month following the sale. For information regarding how to comply with this requirement, please contact the business officer who is responsible for the timely and accurate submission of your tax reports to the Tax Department. For technical tax assistance, please contact or visit http://www.vanderbilt.edu/accounting/FunctionalDepts.php and call or write the individual listed next to "Sales & Amusement Tax Information."

Purchases with non-VU/VUMC funds:
These items are purchased with non-VU/VUMC funds, e.g., a third party payee arrangement or an individual paying with a personal credit card. Neither Vanderbilt’s exemption certificate nor its resale certificate can be applied to these purchases. Therefore, regardless of the intended use of these products, these purchases are subject to any applicable Tennessee sales tax at the time of purchase from the vendor.

Royalties:  

The university's royalty rate is 12% and is added to the cost of the merchandise being ordered. Royalties are due on items that are for resale and the licensed university vendor will include this in the price quoted to you for your order. Royalties collected by Vanderbilt licensed vendors will be submitted to the university's licensing agency, Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC), and sent to the university on a quarterly basis. One hundred percent of these funds support student scholarships. See below for a description of when royalties are applicable to your order.

Internal Use/Promotional Giveaways:  
These items are purchased with VU or VUMC funds and will either be given away or used internally. The licensed vendor will not include royalties in these orders.

Fundraising/Suggested Donation:  
These items are purchased for fundraising events/campaigns and the item is given to a donor in exchange for a "suggested donation." Since these items will be given away for a donation, the university's royalty rate does not apply and the licensed vendor will not include royalties in the cost of the item.

Purchase for Resale:  
This option is not recommended. These items are purchased with the intent to resale the item for a specific mark-up price. Since these items will be resold, the university's royalty rate will be included in the price quoted to you.

Distribution to VU/VUMC Personnel for Reimbursement of the Cost of the Item:
These items are purchased by VU/VUMC personnel and will be made available to personnel for a specified price that is no greater than the cost of the item purchased (sold at cost). Because the item is being resold, the university's royalty rate applies.

Payment with non-VU/VUMC funds:
These are items purchased by a third party (not VU/VUMC) where a personal credit card or other payment i used. Royalties are included in the cost unless the items purchased is for work use at VU/VUMC. 

Placing an Order:

1.  Complete the Merchandise Request form.

  • We recommend that you complete this form four weeks before the desired date to allow for necessary approvals,  vendor production, and shipment.
  • Indicate on the form whether the merchandise is "Internal Use/Promotional Giveaway", "Fundraiser/Suggested Donation", "Purchase for Resale", "Distribution to Vanderbilt Personnel for Reimbursement of the Cost of the item", "Payment with non-VU/VUMC funds".
  • Provide details about your order.  For example, if the order is a reorder, where will you sell the item, how you will offer the item, how many you want to order, etc.
  • The Trademark Licensing Office will review the information provided on the Merchandise Request form and reply to you and the licensed vendor. 
  • Items that are "Internal Use/Promotional Giveaways", or given in exchange for a "Suggested Donation," or are sales for "Purchase for Resale" are tax exempt. Items sold for "Distribution to VU/VUMC Personnel for Reimbursement of the Cost of the Item" and "Payment with non-VU/VUMC Funds" must include Tennessee State Sales Tax in your order. Items ordered as "Fundraiser/Suggested Donation," "Purchase for Resale," and "Payment with non-VU/VUMC Funds" will include the University's royalty rate.  Exception: Items purchased for work use at VU/VUMC (even if not mandatory) will NOT include royalties, but sales tax will still apply.

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

  • Work with the licensed vendor to design your order.
  • The design will then be submitted to the Trademark Licensing Office for review.
  • Once approved by the department or organization the licensed vendor will submit your design online through CLS's art approval system.
  • Once the design is approved by the Trademark Licensing Office, production can begin.
  • Please note that the Trademark Licensing Office is approving the use of university logos and designs only. Third party logos and graphics must be approved separately by the Trademark Owner.