What is Licensing?

Institutions like colleges or universities own the rights to their marks (the school name, mascot, seal and so forth); whether they be applied to shirts, hoodies or other apparel, or if they are used on websites or marketing material. Fraternities and sororities own the rights to their marks (Greek letters, full name, nicknames and so forth) in a similar fashion. These right are protected by US federal trademark law.

Integrity of their marks

Colleges, Universities, and Greek letter organizations grant certain companies like Kotis (called licensees) the rights to reproduce their marks. They do so with strict rules that govern how the marks can be used, what types of apparel or items they can be applied to and the quality of the method of decoration used. These rules differ by fraternity, sorority, college and university – each organization has its own values and particular preferences on how their marks can be used. However, there are some basic guidelines that each organization uses.

  • No defamatory, racial, sexual or derogatory language used in conjunction with their marks
  • No reference to drugs or alcohol
  • No manipulation of specific logos (such as pre-designed mascots or athletic marks)

Again, each organization is different – some are more strict regarding their logo usage, while others may be more lenient. Part of the agreement they have with their licensees is that every custom design created with their marks must be approved by their trademarks office prior to production.


In addition to protecting the integrity of their marks, colleges, Universities and Greek letter organizations use their licensing programs as a way to generate revenue. This is done through a royalty process where the licensee pays anywhere from 8-15% of the sale amount. Usually this royalty is passed through to the end person purchasing the product. For more information on how royalties are used - we suggest contacting the trademark office of your university, or your national headquarters.

Our Commitment to the Licensing Process

Kotis is fundamentally committed to the licensing process. We believe that this process allows organizations and schools to protect their brand, as well as increase the consistency and quality of the items in the marketplace that bear those marks.


We are firm believers in the pursuit of better working standards across the globe; as such we are a proud partner of the Fair Labor Association (FLA). Our association with the FLA is part of our overall commitment to Social Responsibility. When ordering apparel or other items through Kotis; you are helping more people across the world gain access to living wages, better workplace healthcare and better overall working conditions.

For more information on our Social Responsibility movement, please contact us at college@kotisdesign.com.