Brandar Consulting, LLC

  • Why Good Brand Licensors Sleep at Night – Part 2

    I just returned from the International Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. While I was there, I was able to participate in Licensing University and run some seminars; one of which was Best Practices in Corporate Trademark Licensing. I met a fair amount of people who are new to brand licensing at the show and it was clear to me that this blog post: Why Good Brand Licensors Sleep at Night – Part 2 is long overdue for many. In my last post I spoke about the organizational structure of your Licensing Function being absolutely critical to your overall long term licensing success. Well in Part 2, I am cutting to the chase. You want to know the main reason I slept at night when I ran AT&T’s brand licensing program for ten years? I had outstanding Legal support and a world class Quality Assurance Function. To me, that is where the rubber meets the road in successful brand licensing functions. It was no accident that I had great support in these two areas because I went out to find, lobby and recruit that support.

    My main legal support was Frank Politano, AT&T’s Senior Trademark Counsel. I really did not know just how skilled Frank was at brand licensing until I sought him out to see if he could support the proactive expansion of our Brand Licensing function. You see at times Trademark Lawyers may not have a lot of experience in actually doing Trademark Licensing. In Frank’s case, he was a tremendous resource for me as he had so much experience he has actually co-authored a book on the topic for Aspen Law: Drafting License Agreements, now in its Fourth Edition. I also negotiated supplementary legal support from my licensing agency as well. It was up to Frank to manage and utilize those additional resources. He did this quite often. I cannot stress enough the value of having a great Trademark Legal team to insure your contracts are drafted in such a way as to fully protect you as the licensor. Fortunately for me, Frank actually left AT&T and is now available for hire to all in the licensing industry at K&L Gates.

    The other critical aspect to my being able to sleep at night when I ran AT&T’s licensing function was having a world class Quality Assurance function. Because of the nature of our program, we did a lot of licensing in the consumer electronics category. My first thought was to see if I could find a resource internally at AT&T Labs that could perform this type of Quality Assurance. I was lucky enough to find some Electrical Engineers who had spent 20 years designing and doing quality assurance for AT&T branded phones and cell phones. They were more than eager to help me. They were trained as ISO auditors and in Six Sigma Quality processes. I was able to pay them an annual fee to do all my quality assurance. Eventually, AT&T laid them off so they formed Quality Assurance Management Inc. . The company is run by Jeff Lumpkin. Jeff has a passion for Quality Assurance. This blog post is really the brain child of Jeff as he used to introduce himself as “the reason I sleep at night”. He used to say that he didn’t sleep at night so I could. At the end of the day, Quality Assurance is the bedrock of any long-term successful Brand Licensing Program. Poor product quality has ended many licensing relationships prematurely and indeed, ends many Corporate Brand Licensing programs abruptly as well. So if you are building a brand licensing function, take the time to find extremely qualified Quality Assurance resources. Ideally, you want professionals who are trained in ISO and Six Sigma compliance, have a passion for product quality and have an engineering or quality testing background.

    When people ask me the key to successful Brand Licensing Programs, I tell them its making sure you secure and utilize strong legal support and quality assurance functions from your program’s very start. Why? So you can Sleep at Night!

    Mike Slusar

    Managing Director & Owner

    Brandar Consulting, LLC


    “Helping Brands Reach for The Stars”

    copyright © 2010 Brandar Consulting, LLC All Rights Reserved


Best Practices in Brand Licensing Blog

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Our Blog is intended to provide Licensors with unique insights about successfully managing a Corporate Brand Licensing Program. It is written from the perspective of someone who managed AT&T's Brand Licensing program for many years and has consulted in the Licensing Industry for the past 5 years.

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