ALLEGANY, NY – St. Bonaventure University recently suspended all business with local screen-printing store Studio 4 East because of trademarking issues.
The university’s decision had been recommended by its licensing company, Learfield Licensing.
Seth Johnson, director of marketing and promotions at St. Bonaventure, said that Studio 4 East has not been compliant with its licensee contract. Studio 4 East, known for its custom designs and apparel, has been selling clothing featuring artwork not approved through the university’s trademarking process.
That process requires licensees to submit designs through a website for approval, to adhere to the university brand standards correctly report royalties on merchandise, Johnson explained.
Studio 4 East has been a licensee of St. Bonaventure since 2015 and has submitted zero artwork submissions during that time, Johnson said.
“We’ve tried to work with them,” Johnson said. “Learfield, who handles these issues for us, sent them between three and five communications… asking them to become more compliant.”
The university’s official statement from Learfield reads: “until we can resolve these ongoing issues, no campus student organizations or internal campus departments will be permitted to order St. Bonaventure-branded product from Studio 4 in accordance with the standards and requirements of the university licensing program.”
Many campus clubs engage Studio 4 East to make shirts for events or fundraisers.
“At this point in time, it’s not appropriate for us to okay any university funds to be used at a place that is not adhering to the correct university process,” Johnson said. “What we’re hoping… is that they’ll come back into compliance and be able to do submissions and do everything how all of our other licensees are, and we can move forward. They are a local business, and a staple in this area, and we want to work with them.”
Many of the store’s most popular designs, like the word “Budweiser” replaced with the word “Bonaventure” on a Budweiser logo, are not approved by the university to be sold. The store would have to stop selling these designs to comply, which could impact their business.
“I think they would be benefited more from coming back and complying, because then we could help them more… Right now, we can’t send anybody there. We can’t promote anything to our alums that they have,” Johnson said.
Steve Mest, associate athletics director for external relations at the university, commented on the issue.
“It’s unfortunate” Mest said, "but from our perspective we have tried to reach out to them, and they have not responded.”
Peter Wintermantel, partial owner of Studio 4 East, declined to comment on the issue, saying he didn’t want to comment until he knew more from the university about the situation.
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