ITS Commercial Endorsement Policy

Updated July 2011 (Originally created March 2005)

Information Technology Services (ITS) periodically receives requests from commercial vendors to serve as a reference, participate in press releases, case studies, advertisements, or product endorsements. In general, following UC policy, ITS does not participate in such requests for commercial vendors. University of California regulations state, "Approval shall not be given for advertising listing the university as a user of any product or service or as the source of research information on which a commercial program is based."

UC Santa Cruz adopted a Commercial Activities Policy in 1996 in which there is this guiding statement, “University regulations generally prohibit or narrowly restrict commercial activities such as use of university properties for commercial purposes or for personal financial gain; acceptance of advertising in university publications; commercial use of the university name or seal; and co-sponsorship of events, programs, or activities with commercial enterprises.”

More specifically “The university's name, seal, or other identifier may not be used for commercial promotional purposes--for example, listing the university as the user of a product--except with prior permission.”

This campus policy is rooted in the 1985 UC policy, Delegation of Authority-Policy to Permit Use of the University's Name.

There is an exception to this regulation that states, "Except that approval may be granted for institutional or goodwill advertising clearly regarded as being in the best interests of the university. If any doubt exists as to whether the use of the university's name will contribute to the best interests of the university, the permission shall be withheld." Exceptions may include donor of gifts and grants. Chancellors are delegated the authority to authorize use of their campus names (e.g., University of California , Santa Cruz), abbreviations (e.g., UCSC), or any other name that includes such designations or abbreviations.

Typically, UCSC administration (which includes ITS) takes a very conservative approach. UC Office of General Counsel discourages product endorsements but if an exception is granted, counsel requires that use of the University name be limited to the facts (i.e., equipment was donated by _____ to UCSC in support of _____ project) without value judgments or testimonials. Further, the statement must include a disclaimer indicating that the university name does not imply any endorsement as indicated in the campus policy.

The UCSC Commercial Activities Policy and UC Delegation of Authority-Policy to Permit Use of the University's Name demonstrates a preference for avoiding commercial endorsement. In keeping with this approach, ITS will not serve as a vendor reference, nor provide endorsements used for commercial advantage.Requests to establish vendor endorsement agreements shall require a written submittal for permission to use the university name.

What to do if ITS gets a request from a commercial vendor:
If, by your own assessment, the answer to the request is "no" then you may respond to the vendor accordingly (see below for language to use). If the answer is "yes" or you aren't sure, please forward the request to Lisa Bono, ITS communication manager, together with a summary statement addressing policy considerations and benefit to the university. ITS senior management will carefully consider each request.

Language for a “no” response:
As a public university, we evaluate the use of the university name or seal very carefully, in order that we not create the appearance that the university endorses, favors, or is affiliated with any commercial enterprise. Therefore, we cannot [serve as a reference] [provide an endorsement] [participate in the press release] for your product. Thank you for understanding. If you have further questions, please contact Lisa Bono, Information Technology Services, at (831) 459-1583.