Really Old Navy

Licensing: If its name is popular on clothing, Naval Academy should reap benefit to support its programs.

August 04, 1999

IF Donna Karan and Tommy Hilfiger can make millions by adorning garments with their names, why shouldn't the U.S. Naval Academy be able to cash in on the same thing?

Years ago, universities learned the power of their brand names. They know that their students, graduates and staff -- not to mention people who never stepped foot on their campus -- will often spend a little more to wear the school's name on their chests. They use the proceeds to support their teams or other programs.

The Naval Academy does the same thing as other schools with various sports teams. Eight cents of every dollar spent on Navy-licensed products -- up from 7.5 cents last year -- helps support academy athletic programs.

But some argue that a publicly funded institution is not entitled to the royalties, claiming it amounts to double taxation for the merchants who pay the licensing fees.

Nonsense. Merchants pay state taxes that support the University of Maryland and other public institutions, and still fork over licensing fees for their merchandise. That's just part of the game now that college logos mean as much to consumers as designer emblems. Why should the Navy be any different?

Besides, we recall an awful lot of carping years ago about public television's failure to capitalize on licensing children's characters such as Barney the dinosaur. The Navy should use its salable images to the same advantage, right?

The academy has made only about $100,000 each of the past few years off its trademarks for the word Navy, Bill the Goat and other symbols, but the money helps.

If Navy remains a popular brand name, the academy should protect its interests and reap the benefits from its trademarks.

Pub Date: 8/04/99

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