University Departments

Merchandise and/or Promotional Items

In order to safeguard Michigan State University's intellectual property and satisfy the university's graphic standards, campus units planning to display university trademarks for campus merchandising programs or promotions requires review and authorization from the University Licensing Programs office.  All merchandising activity must be sourced from a company licensed with MSU. For a complete list of university licensees, please see the Find A Licensee page.

Examples of merchandising activity include:

  • Sales of products for fundraising programs
  • Sales of products on campus with a vending permit
  • Sales of products to group members or staff
  • Sales of products through either campus or private retailers
  • Sales of products to any third party
  • Promotional product giveaways


Ready To Get Started?

Getting permission to use MSU trademarks is a simple process. Use the Licensing Authorization online form linked below to request approval. If you require assistance, contact University Licensing Programs at or by phone at 517-355-3434.

licensing authorization form button


University Department Identity Guidelines

A logo or wordmark is a standardized graphic representation associated with an institution, organization, or business. When used consistently, it helps create a clear and memorable identity and becomes a symbol that provides audiences with immediate and powerful recognition and association with the institution.

Michigan State University has four official graphic marks—the Michigan State University wordmark, Spartan helmet logo, university seal, and block S—all of which are registered trademarks, as are the words “Michigan State University," "Michigan State," "MSU," among others.

  • The wordmark and helmet may be used widely by the MSU community, while the university seal and block S are available for more selective use.

A standardized signature system provides options for university colleges and other units to combine a unit name with the wordmark or with the wordmark and helmet.

The following guidelines have been created to assist departments in knowing how to use university trademarks on merchandise and/or promotional items. (For an overview of the appropriate use of marks and signatures in various types of communications, see the reference chart.

brand guidelines chart

Primary Typeface showed above: Gotham Medium; Gotham Black.  When a sans serif font is desired, default to Helvetica typeface or, secondarily, Arial may be used.


  1. Complete and submit the online Licensing Authorization Form to University Licensing Programs for review and approval. 
  2. When purchasing with a purchase order or P-card, a copy of the fully executed Licensing Authorization Form with approval from the licensing office must be attached with your payment request.
  3. Present a fully executed authorization form to your supplier with your order.
  4. Suppliers will then submit your artwork to University Licensing Programs for review and approval.
  5. Follow up with either your supplier or the University Licensing Programs office for the status of your order.
Questions? Please contact University Licensing Programs at or by phone at 517-355-3434.
  • University trademarks may not be altered and all merchandise must include the department's name and/or logo prominently on the product.
  • Departments should comply with university purchasing rules where necessary. Please note that if a licensee is not used, the university may not approve funding for the order.
  • Departments should adhere to the university brand standards as instructed by MSU Communications and Brand Strategy (CABS). 

Royalties generated from the commercial use of MSU's marks support student scholarships and programming for MSU students as well as athletic scholarships for student-athletes, less the actual administrative expenses of running the trademark licensing program.

The administrative expenses include maintaining the legal requirements of trademark registration, addressing product infringement, supporting the Fair Labor Association and Workers Rights Consortium and maintaining the Trademarks and Licensing Office.

Exemptions from royalties include:

  • Giveaways (merchandise not for resale) procured through a university purchase order or a university-issued P-card will be exempt from royalties.  
If the merchandise is for resale to anyone else, even as a fundraiser for charity, royalties must be paid by the vendor and will be reflected in the price to the organization placing the order.

Since the current mascot was introduced in 1989, the MSU Alumni Office has had the honor of overseeing the Sparty Mascot Program. It's because of this tradition, the MSU Alumni Office is dedicated to maintaining the MSU mascot brand and ensuring it is used correctly in all areas across campus and elsewhere.

This book details all appropriate usage of the current Sparty illustrations, mascot armor, signature, event visits and more. With this book as a guideline, Sparty's brand will be just as strong as his muscles.

Sparty Brand Guide (PDF)

Campus units that work with a third-party sponsor and/or partner that wishes to produce co-branded merchandise or promotional items must receive permission to use the university's brand prior to the sponsorship activity. The Licensing Authorization Form will be required to ensure that an officially licensed vendor is used and the standard royalty rate is applied.
A university department may use the university logos in printed material without seeking prior permission. However, it is important to use the marks correctly. A full description of MSU brand standards can be found at

For an overview of the appropriate use of marks and signatures in various types of communications, see the reference chart.
University Licensing Programs is the designated clearinghouse for all university-related trademarks. All university-derived marks are the property of Michigan State University and will be registered as such with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Our role in the trademark registration process is to ensure proper steps are taken for you as the client in the registration, renewals, and affidavits of use requirements. No additional fees will be assessed for our services beyond the required filing fees as stated by the USPTO and outside counsel. For more information, please review Trademark Registration.