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The Business of Greek Life: Fraternity and Sorority Merchandise, Trademarks, and Licensing

Fraternities and sororities are the most spirited bunch on campus. They’re all about that Greek life and are proud to show it off on sweatshirts, water bottles, and other cool merch.

Do you want your company to be part of rush week? Before you get started, there’s an important thing you need to be familiar with: licensing!

Here’s everything you need to know about how Greek licensing works.  

What is Licensing?

The Greek letters, names, mascots, crests, or any combination used by fraternities and sororities are all trademarked. You’ve probably heard the word “trademark” before, but just in case, here’s a breakdown of what that means:

It may seem weird to think about trademarking Greek letters, since the alphabet is ancient and culturally specific. However, fraternities and sororities have letter combinations with a specific meanings that’s unique to them. As a result, you must have an official license in order to create and sell Greek merchandise.

Why Do I Need a License?

Think about it this way. You wouldn’t see Starbucks’ trademark mermaid logo printed on travel mugs and sold at other coffee chains, would you? Greek licensing works exactly the same!

Fraternities and sororities have hundreds of years of heritage and history to protect. They want to ensure their emblems are being used in a way that reflects their organization’s values and standards.

Greek Licensing will provide this seal for approved vendors. If your business is approved, you can display it on your website.

Licensing isn’t something to take lightly. You can find yourself in trouble if you don’t get the necessary approval to sell Greek merchandise.

Take for instance, Delta Sigma Theta who sued a clothing company for infringement in 2011 for the unauthorized sale of apparel. Two years later Alpha Chi Omega sued a paddle manufacturer for the wrongful use of their insignia on paddles.

The only way to legally produce merch that includes fraternity or sorority letters and logos is to get a license. The seal serves as an agreement between your company and the Greek organization that you have the right to produce items containing their marks in exchange for royalties and won’t use the mark in any way that’s damaging or defamatory.

How Do I Get Licensed?

You can register for a license to sell Greek merchandise directly through Affinity Licensing at It’s a 3-step process that involves:

Step One 

Create a new vendor account on their website.

Step Two

Submit the online application.

Step Three

Receive instant notification when you’re approved.

The team at Affinity Licensing meets with representatives from the Greek organizations who own the trademarks. They’re ultimately the ones with the power to grant permission, and you need their approval before your business can legally sell or print the Greek letters and symbols on any merch.

If the fraternity or sorority isn’t a member of, you will have to go through their specific licensing process. Be sure to ask plenty of questions of the organization before you go forward with printing their letters, crests, or logos.

How Much Does Greek Licensing Cost?

Every Greek organization sets their own application fee for a license. Most of the time the fee is $20, but it can be high as $100 depending on the fraternity or sorority. This fee is renewed annually as long as the company continues to produce Greek merchandise.

You are also required to pay royalties back to Affinity Licensing if you receive a license. These are collected on a quarterly basis and range from 8.5% to 10% of the total gross sales made from selling Greek merchandise. Some organizations also set a minimum royalty. The company selling the Greek merch must meet that amount to continue their contract with the fraternity or sorority with whom they’re licensed.

All of these payments are then processed by Affinity Licensing and sent directly to the Greek organization.

Does Everyone Need a License?

Source: @ KDChi (Kappa Delta Chi) – Instagram

Businesses that intend to sell the Greek merch for profit are the only ones that need a license. That means members of a fraternity or sorority can customize their own clothes, signs, and home décor without worrying about getting sued!

Are you part of a sorority or fraternity? Go ahead and show your pride with decorative puffy paint on a cool t-shirt or a handmade sign like the one featured here. You can craft anything you want with your symbols and name as long as you have no intention of selling it!

Printing Greek Letters & Symbols on Promotional Products

If you intend on printing the Greek letters and symbols from a fraternity or sorority on t-shirts, water bottles, stress balls, or any other promotional items, you must first obtain the necessary license. The team at Affinity Licensing will review the artwork and approve it before you can go forward with the order.

The good news is that the fraternities and sororities are fairly lenient about how their symbol and letters are printed. You don’t necessarily have to use a particular color or font on your promotional items. The only thing that needs to be exact is the fraternity or sorority’s trademark crest.

Are you planning on branding items with the Greek motifs for an event? Factor in the time it will take to be approved by Affinity Licensing into your order. It’s a relatively quick process, but it’s an extra step that you’re going to have to take.

Send your artwork or samples to:

Affinity Product Review
9 Wheeler Ave.
Cortland, NY 13045

Show Your Greek Pride

Is Greek licensing worth it? Absolutely! You want a bunch of cool stuff printed with the crests, letters, and symbols. It helps the members show pride in their fraternity or sorority! That’s over 8 million people who’d be interested in this stylish Greek gear.

Source: @ apa1906network, @ epsilon_tau_aka @ uftheta
@nphc_niu, @ ztafraternity @ officialzeta1920 @ alphasigmatau, @ appstate_sao