County Educators’ Authority to Grant Use of 4-H Name and Emblem
The 4-H Name and emblem is a federal trademark, protected by 18 USC 707. Ultimately, the responsibility for the protection of the trademark is the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. In practicality, the responsibility lies in the hands of the county educator and state 4-H leaders. In Ohio, we have taken steps to protect the name and emblem by setting standards for each club to follow and certify their willingness to follow the guidelines. Ohio 4-H club charters are granted to clubs that are in compliance. County educators have the responsibility to protect the use of the name and emblem within their county. Educators have oversight on the use of the name and emblem for fundraising activities and promotions in the name of 4-H by clubs, committees, organizations, and the business community.
- A 4-H club is conducting a sale of 4-H T-shirts with the 4-H emblem and the county name printed on the front. Since the sale of the T-shirts is directed at members within the county, the educator can authorize the club to use the name and emblem. The county educator will provide the club with information on the proper use and display of the 4-H name and emblem.
- A 4-H advisory committee is selling 4-H calendars and is planning on selling them at various festivals and stores in the North Central Region. Since the sale of the calendars is multi-county, the decision making is transferred to the state 4-H office. All groups that are fundraising and using the 4-H name and emblem beyond a single county must complete the Ohio 4-H Name and Emblem Request Form and submit it to the state 4-H office for authorization to use the name and emblem.
- "Sally’s Fabric Shop" wants to hold 4-H Days at their store. They plan to advertise the event in the local newspaper. They will provide free educational seminars and a 10 percent discount on all supplies for 4-H club members. In this example, "Sally’s Fabric Shop" is conducting a promotional event at its local store. The educator needs to decide whether 4-H gains from the event, or whether the fabric shop is just interested in increasing its profits. The county educator is empowered to make the decision since the use of the 4-H name is limited to one shop in the county. If "Sally’s Fabric Shop" was a chain of shops in multiple counties and was planning promotions in several counties, then the decision making is transferred to the state 4-H office.
Things to remember:
• The 4-H name and emblem shall not be used to imply endorsement of commercial firms, products, or services.
• Commercial firms, vendors, organizations, and their products may not profit from the use of the 4-H name and emblem, UNLESS there is an agreed-upon benefit with 4-H and it is clear that the 4-H educational program will benefit from this agreement.
• Authority to grant permission for the use of the name and emblem is granted by:
- The county 4-H educator (or area leader if there isn’t an educator) if the fundraiser or promotion is limited to a single county.
- Granting use of the 4-H name and emblem beyond a single county (i.e. multi-county) is the responsibility of the state 4-H office.
- Granting use of the name and emblem beyond Ohio is the responsibility of National 4-H Headquarters.
• When approving fundraising or promotions along with the use of the 4-H name and emblem, consider how the group is planning to market their product. Advertising through radio, newspaper advertisements, or the Internet may move the fundraising beyond your county boundaries and beyond local educator authority to grant permission.
• 4-H groups wishing to market their product through a second-party company that advertises their product need to check on the advertising coverage zone.
• Fundraising or use of the 4-H name and emblem for promotions beyond a single county must be approved at the state or national level. Applications may be made by submitting samples of the product(s) along with the Ohio 4-H Name and Emblem and Fundraising Request Form
• A sample letter is available for educators to grant permission to use the 4-H name and emblem for promotions and fundraising
Reviewed by Tom Archer – March 2015
Updated – December 2016; June 2018