Converse and representatives from the Council of Presidents, which comprises the leadership of nine historic African-American Fraternities and Sororities, ended a trademark infringement suit filed by the Council in 2003 by entering a into a licensing agreement. The multi-year deal enables Converse to manufacture, distribute and sell footwear featuring the trademarks of these organizations which represent over 1.8 million members worldwide.
The organizations participating in the licensing agreement are Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., and lota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc.
As part of the business arrangement and licensing agreement, Converse has agreed to pay the organizations a percentage of the gross revenue on every product sold by Converse that bears the trademark of the organizations. One of the avenues available for a partnership with the company will be products that feature the respective Centennial celebrations in 2008 for the Converse brand and for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Converse will also host cross-functional summer internships to college and university students from these organizations beginning June 2007. The internships offer graduate level students the opportunity to work in finance, brand and product marketing functions of the company, providing practical business and unique mentoring and experience for emerging leaders.
Samuel C. Hamilton, Chairman of The Council of Presidents and Chief Executive Officer of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., said: “This is an example of how a disagreement can be channeled into cooperation. It is in our mutual interests to develop licensed products that our members will want to support while also providing training to some of our future business executives. That is in line with our mission and serves our members.”
“We are incredibly excited about this announcement joining two historic institutions to collaborate on unique business opportunities and ideas moving forward. We have developed an extremely positive relationship and innovative resolution with the Council of Presidents. We look forward to a long term relationship to further support the fraternities and sororities rich heritage through the brands dedication to originality and brand democracy,” said Jack Boys, Chief Executive Officer, Converse.
Barbara McKinzie, International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., added, “It is fortunate that we are able to overcome the challenges that marked the start of our relationship with such a positive outcome. This licensing arrangement gives Converse an opportunity to support some of the community programs our organizations have in place; and the footwear angle gives us an opportunity to use the licensed products to focus on continuing a healthy and active lifestyle. This is the ultimate win/win proposition.”