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Colleges Are Businesses


In case you had any doubts…

An article on the front page of Saturday’s Boston Globe describes the growing number of trademarks that Harvard University’s lawyers are claiming are exclusive to the venerable educational institution.

You see, Harvard™ is a brand, just like Pepsi™, Coca-Cola™, and Pampers™. And like other brands that trademark phrases like “Quality is Job One” or “You Deserve a Break Today” or “You’re in Good Hands” are also property of a university.

Here is a list of phrases that Harvard claims as its exclusive property:

“Ask What You Can Do”

“Lessons Learned”

“Power of Ideas at Work”


“The World’s Thinking”

“Managing Yourself”

“Memo to the CEO”

“An Evening with Champions”

Apparently, the other Ivy League universities are in awe of Harvard’s efforts to grab snippets of the English language as its own.  Princeton, Yale, and Columbia have only a handful of trademarks, mostly related to its official crests, sports mascots, and name (except for Columbia–which shares a name with a sportswear company).

Even some professors quoted in the article are aghast at the lengths to which Harvard goes to protect its brand.

But none of this should really be a surprise.  What is perhaps surprising, though, is that more universities have not followed Harvard’s lead.  Stay tuned:  next it will be Wayne State™ and Quinnipiac™.

Mark Montgomery
College Planner

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