UM Licensing and Trademark Program Garners National Award

April 03, 2019

UM Director of Trademarks and Licensing Erika Palmer recently earned a national award for her work.MISSOULA – The University of Montana’s Trademark and Licensing program garnered record-breaking royalties in 2018-19 through innovative programming, earning a 2019 Synergy Award from the International Collegiate Licensing Association this month.

The award is given annually to an exceptional campus that has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to collegiate licensing. It is the second time UM has won the award, and UM is the first institution to receive this award twice.

“It’s an honor to be recognized with the prestigious Synergy Award, particularly when we’re in the ring with top-tier schools with much greater resources and peer institutions that are consistently turning out creative programs for their schools,” said Erika Palmer, UM’s director of Trademarks and Licensing. “I think the award speaks to our ingenuity capitalizing on unique programs and finding ways to connect them with our University. We share this award with our licensing partners, retailers, fans and the greater Griz community, as their engagement and support of our brand allows us these fun opportunities to be creative.”

UM's exclusive selection of products in honor of UM alumnus Dave Dickenson.This year, Palmer worked with Nike by Branded Custom Sportswear to license  an exclusive selection of products in honor of UM alumnus Dave Dickenson, a 2018 National College Football Hall of Fame inductee and former quarterback of the 1995 National Championship team. The products, featuring a mix of Dickenson’s retired UM jersey number 15, the copper and gold throwback colors and a retro mark, had a near 100 percent sell-through rate and were popular with fans, earning roughly $100,000 in nontraditional licensed product sales for the University.

Additionally, Palmer worked with Big Sky Brewing Co. to develop a Griz Montana Lager in honor of the University’s 125th anniversary year, as a short-term, limited-edition product for the market with statewide and surrounding state distribution. Sales for the product generated more than $250,000, and a promotional video for the lager received more than 57,000 views and 1,000 shares on social media channels in a single day.

Spearheaded by Palmer, UM experienced record-breaking royalties and a record $4 million in sales of Griz products, including 530,000 units sold.

ICLA President Adam Parker said UM’s licensing program was very deserving of the nationally competitive award.

“Erika Palmer, with her team at UM, were nothing short of amazing in 2018,” Parker said. “From earing record-breaking royalties with the 125th Griz lager, plus numerous other programs both on and off campus, Montana ran a licensing program that is very deserving of the Synergy award.”

Palmer, a 2005 UM alumna, returned to UM in 2009 and has continued to help fortify the University’s brand value through licensed product sales and trademark protection. At UM, she assists with campuswide marketing and advertising initiatives and is the sole employee dedicated to trademark licensing.Griz Montana Lager, produced with Big Sky Brewing Co. for UM's 125th anniversary.

Palmer said she was pleased to “continue the enforcement and brand protection efforts that strengthened UM’s trademark portfolio development.”  Described by her peers as one of the “unsung heroes” pushing creative ideas, she is responsible for establishing a partnership between UM and Operation Hat Trick, a nonprofit that generates awareness and support for the recovery of wounded service members and veterans through the sale of OHT-branded merchandise and products. Dot Sheehan, founder of OHT, has been named the 2019 ICLA Service Award Recipient, for her dedication to supporting veterans and their recovery.

The Synergy Award was previously awarded in 2001 under the leadership of former UM licensing director Denise Lamb and University Executive Vice President Bob Frazier. 

For more information about the honor, visit http://bit.ly/2YOga2Y.

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Contact: Erika Palmer, UM director of Trademarks and Licensing, 406-243-2317, Erika.palmer@umontana.edu.