Almost every university, sports team, and Greek organization has strict laws in place to protect their trademarks. Creating and selling products including their names, symbols, or even color combinations without a license could be against the law.
I began selling National Panhellenic Sorority stitched letter shirts to sisters in my sorority and other girls on campus this past March. I realized I could make a profit out of this new hobby and decided to sell online, on Etsy.com. I had been selling for a about a month when I received an Etsy message from a representative of Affinity Consultants. Long story short, the sender told me I had two weeks to get “licensed” to sell Greek Organization products or my site would be shut down and I would be subject to a lawsuit. I was totally oblivious that it was illegal to sell something merely containing a specific combination of Greek letters! Especially my own sorority, Kappa Delta. I was outraged and then chalked it up to being a scam–there was no way this was a real legal issue.
I did my research, reading both online forums and the Official Greek Licensing Website. Becoming a licensed seller is a big decision to be made by a 20-year-old full time college student/part-time restaurant hostess (aka slave). The process included paying initial application fees, annual contract renewal, and quarterly royalty payments–each fee was per organization. I would need to obtain general liability insurance and get each design approved for quality and appropriateness. I took the plunge and applied for three Greek organizations. A few months later, I got the email I had been waiting for–I had finally been approved!
Greek Licensing was something I knew absolutely nothing about and, at first glance, thought it was ridiculous. Now, I understand the necessity of these Greek Organizations (and schools, etc.) to protect their trademark. This ensures that the items representing their brand are of high quality and do not promote/glorify things like hazing, alcohol (ex. no Kappa Delta shot glasses allowed!). I do not regret my decision to become licensed, and encourage anyone who is thinking about selling Greek Products to get licensed BEFORE selling-don’t wait to get caught! Any vendor without the officially licensed seal provided by Affinity Consultants is not legally allowed to sell. Help protect the integrity of these trademarks and order from legally licensed sellers!