Faculty Assembly OKs update to Pitt ‘marks’ policy


Faculty Assembly at its May 10 meeting approved Pitt’s updated Licensing and Use of University Name Logos, Trademarks and Service Marks policy, which establishes “Pitt’s right to control the use of the University name, logos, trademarks and service marks; the nature and quality of goods or services with which they are associated; and, in order to achieve uniformity of presentation of the marks, the artistic form in which the marks are reproduced.”

It applies to identity marks, whether registered or not, adopted or used by the University as word marks such as “University of Pittsburgh,” “Pitt” or “Pitt Panthers” and others containing graphic components, such as the University seal, a representation of a football helmet or a panther. The policy was last reviewed in 2008.

“It’s sort of updating and simplifying the guidance within the policy on use of the mark, who is in charge of it and that kind of thing,” said Senate Council Vice President Kris Kanthak. “One of the things is that it makes it easier to see where the brand standards are so that it’s easier to adhere to them. It’s easier to get printed design suppliers who already know how to use the marks that are approved.”

The Library Committee unanimously passed the policy at its most recent meeting, with little discussion, Kanthak noted.

In response to a question regarding “artistic interpretation” of University marks, such as someone incorporating the Pitt seal into a work of art, Jen Chaparro, Pitt brand manager in the Office of University Communications and Marketing, said she doesn’t “recommend” using the seal in such a manner.

“As that’s not our main mark anymore, outside of things like diplomas and official documents,” she said. “I guess it would fall into our area, but it would also fall under the Licensing Office and Office of University Council, which are really kind of the three offices that work within this policy and help to make sure that it’s being adhered to.

“If somebody was using something that’s inappropriate, we would certainly have counsel involved there,” Chaparro added. “But the idea is that we’re trying to create consistency and uphold the brand standards guidelines as they’ve been laid out.”

The idea is to make the marks widely available so people use them correctly, “and we all look like a united front, and that people aren’t sort of creating their own versions of things,” she said. “Some of our marks are registered trademarks. … All those different things that have been legally bound via different avenues, whether it’s athletics or academic or institutional.”

Doug Reed, associate professor of immunology for the Center for Vaccine Research, asked if research faculty members who give a few seminars a year should be concerned about which Pitt mark they use on seminar title pages.

“So we’re really trying to make sure that people will have all the right resources and the right tools at their disposal to make sure that everything is consistent and that there’s a point person,” Chaparro said of herself and the Office of University Communications and Marketing, “but also Licensing and University Counsel to ask these questions (when) there are particular situations that might not fall exactly along with something that’s outlined.”

Reed added he was unaware of the policy changes until they came before Faculty Assembly. “There’s been zero communication from the University, that this is even a thing,” he said. “As Faculty Assembly members, I guess we should go back to our representative units and tell them, but yeah, the University needs to think about the fact that this is not information that is readily available — that we don’t even know to look for.

“I have no objections to doing it,” he added. “I’m just saying it’s not being communicated, or just putting it on a website doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to find it.”

Chaparro said she would share Reed’s feedback with the communications, while noting that brand trainings are available for those who want to learn “how we got where we are and what we use now versus what we used 10 years ago, things like that,” she said. “We have definitely made a concerted effort to make sure that this is spread across the University.

“But by all means, anyone’s welcome to attend those brand trainings and presentations that we do every few months to learn more.”

Faculty Assembly updated the marks policy with 32 voting yes, none opposed and three abstentions. 

Shannon O. Wells is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at shannonw@pitt.edu.


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