What are USC’s requirements for companies that manufacture products bearing the trademarks of the university?

Interested companies are required to apply for a license in order to brand consumer products with USC trademarks. Those companies that demonstrate the ability to produce a high quality product manufactured in compliance with USC’s Workplace Code of Conduct are granted licenses, after which they are considered a licensee of USC. In most cases, a new licensee will need to implement a social responsibility program prior to the award of a license.

Why does USC require licensees to conduct social responsibility compliance audits of its factories and suppliers?

As part of the licensing agreement, licensees are contractually obligated to adopt USC’s Workplace Code of Conduct. These standards conform to international standards set by the International Labor Organization (ILO). Unfortunately, some countries do not take a proactive role in enforcing these standards. Therefore, licensees are required to submit to third-party social compliance audits in an effort to ensure that the code of conduct is being followed.

What steps must USC licensees take to have an acceptable compliance program?

Licensee requirements are as follows:

  • Ensure that the USC Workplace Code of Conduct is being implemented in the licensee’s manufacturing process. This is done with the assistance of a qualified third-party monitor who will conduct regular audits of the facilities in which the licensed products are manufactured
  • Work with the factory to remedy identified exceptions to the code of conduct in a timely manner
  • Agree to unannounced USC review of their facilities at the university’s discretion

Many companies already use factories that are certified by other retailers, certification programs, and brands. Are those reports sufficient?

Various retailers and licensing programs may not have the same code of conduct or the same standards as USC. USC is willing to review such certifications; however these are generally considered as a supplement instead of a replacement for the university’s own social responsibility requirements.

Is USC only concerned about overseas workplaces?

USC licensees and their suppliers, regardless of location, are generally required to have compliance programs in place. Past compliance audits have identified areas for improvement with licensees’ operations, both in and outside the U.S.

What happens if problems are found?

USC expects licensees to take necessary action to resolve any issues both within their own facility and those of their suppliers. In addition, USC encourages licensees to make every reasonable effort to remedy the situation rather than leave the facility because of a reported problem. Verification of remedies is required, and in some cases follow-up audits are necessary.

Has USC denied licenses to companies who have not implemented social responsibility into their businesses?

USC will commonly turn down prospective licensees that are unable or unwilling to meet the university’s requirements. In many cases these companies are actively licensed with other entities. However, USC is committed to take additional steps in to help ensure that the values of its licensees are in line with those of the university.