Every T-shirt, water bottle or lawn gnome decked out in a blue and orange Boise State logo had to meet the approval of Rachael Bickerton, director of trademark licensing and enforcement at Boise State. Bickerton protects the good name of the university and makes sure that any time the logo appears on a product, the proceeds go to the school and student scholarships. Since moving to Boise from London, Bickerton has earned the alias "The Enforcer," complete with a blue and orange cape.
How long have you been stateside?
Since 2001. I was obviously educated in England. I took an undergraduate in law, practiced for a big city firm, then I went to work for BMG music and RCA records. The most famous product there is probably Simon Cowell. BMG then moved me to New York in 2001, and I was involved in digital distribution. BMG merged with Sony so I moved to L.A. for Rhino Entertainment, where I was vice president of business affairs. One of the deals we did was acquire the Grateful Dead catalog. I met my husband in L.A., then moved back to BMG in London. By that point, I'd come to visit Boise, and we just wanted to move here. So while I was in London, we spent the whole time planning how we could move out of the music industry. So we did a year and a half ago, and I got this job and here I am. I love Boise and I love my job. I couldn't be happier.
Where in England are you from?
Originally form Woodbridge, Suffolk, East Anglia, which is the eastern bump on England. When I was 15, I moved to London, so I finished school in London and I went to university in southern England and finished off school, then moved back to London. So I probably count myself as a Londoner.
How has it been adapting to the Boise weather?
I love it. It's perfect because when I moved from England to New York, I loved the fact that it was sunny all the time but hated the humidity and wasn't too keen on the cold wind that whips down the avenues. So I moved to L.A., and the rainy season is just awful, and in Boise it's just the best of everything. I love the dry heat. We ski, so I love the winter. It was very easy to adapt. I think it helps, though, for five days a week having an air-conditioned office. And then on the weekends I'm out in the Foothills, and the heat is more bearable when you're out and about.
You're the first director Boise State has had for this program?
This position is new. Obviously, we've been licensing our trademarks for a while, long before I came along. Since the Fiesta Bowl win in 2007, our trademark revenue has more than doubled. We have now more than 335 licensees registered to produce official Boise State products. So I was hired basically because our trademark program has become so big. Athletics [Department] had handled it very well previously, but they have a lot going on. So it was thought we should have someone solely dedicated to working with potential licensees. That's one of my roles, to help explain to people how to get licensed and to explain what one can and can't do with our trademarks. I've said elsewhere that our trademark licensing program funds student scholarships.
How does it come to your attention when someone uses a logo without permission?
Quite often either I'll see them when I'm out and about, or people contact me. The way to identify a licensed product is there's a holograph that says "officially licensed product." Often if people see, for example, T-shirts that don't have that hologram or that have a slogan that doesn't feel like it would be something Boise State would support, or a service that implies it's associated with Boise State, people will contact me. In most cases, these issues are resolved pretty quickly. Once I know about something, it's a phone call or a letter and we either get them licensed or they change how they're presenting their product or service, so lawsuits are very few and far between. It's really about education.
They call you "The Enforcer"?
This arose out of an internal joke. My full title is "director of trademark licensing and enforcement." Someone once referred to me as "The Enforcer," and the title stuck. And then for Halloween, I made a blue and orange cape. I had McU's screen print a logo on it, and I actually had to pay royalties on getting the logo printed. And we've kinda had fun with it. We have a weekly column on our online newsletter called "Ask the Enforcer." It's kinda been a good way to educate people because I'd rather focus on the good part of my job rather than being viewed as the police. So that's my alter ego.
So what is a typical day for The Enforcer?
It changes daily. I try to spend most of my time on licensing. I approve every single design that comes through, every T-shirt, card, decal, every bobble-head doll and garden gnome. It amazes me what people license. I'll check to see that the trademark is represented properly and whether it's a product we want our trademark logo or colors to be associated with. I will respond to licensing inquiries where people want to know how to get a license. And then I'll also deal with queries from people where "I saw this, this doesn't feel right," and then I work with Athletics [Department] on their sponsorship deals and marketing campaigns, and work a lot with the Bronco Shop for what new products they want so I can find licensees to provide those products.
What's your favorite Boise State product?
Everyone at the university knows that I love the Boise State garden gnome. Garden gnomes are very English. There's kinda been a joke from a movie, was it Amelie, where someone stole a gnome and then they'd take pictures and send the postcard back, so I took him to London and I took pictures of the gnome around London. That's my personal favorite.
To contact The Enforcer about obtaining a license or to report a logo infraction, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.