NC State
Trademark Licensing


Early NC State athletic teams were known as the Farmers and Mechanics, the Aggies, the Techs and the Red Terrors. In 1921, the football team adopted “Wolfpack” as their team name. After a student vote in 1946, Wolfpack was adopted as the official team name for all sports. In 1982, NC State obtained federal trademark registration for Wolfpack. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved this registration because of Wolfpack’s uniqueness as a combined word (rather than two words, i.e., “Wolf Pack”) and the preexisting awareness that the word represented NC State teams.

Because Wolfpack is a registered trademark, campus communicators need to follow these guidelines to protect the word’s status as a trademarked term:

  • Use “Wolfpack” as an adjective, not a noun.

Trademarks are essentially adjectives; they modify nouns. Therefore, Wolfpack should always be used to modify a noun.

Incorrect: The Wolfpack plays football at Carter-Finley Stadium.

Correct: The Wolfpack football team plays at Carter-Finley Stadium. Wolfpack basketball plays at PNC Arena. Wolfpack fans are the best in the country.

  • The first use of Wolfpack in an article, webpage, social media post or other content should use the whole word, capitalized as in this sentence.

Subsequent use in the same content can use either Wolfpack or, in less formal contexts, ’Pack (see below).

  • Anyone wishing to use Wolfpack to name a new program, initiative, event or project should contact the Office of Strategic Brand Management beforehand so the university can ensure the proper use of this trademark.


Pack vs. ’Pack

Ever since NC State teams adopted Wolfpack as a team name, in common vernacular the word has been shortened to “Pack,” as in “The Pack won today in football,” or “Go Pack!” Unfortunately this usage dilutes the unique Wolfpack brand. The word “Wolfpack” is not in the dictionary; it is a newly invented word that consists of a combination of two previously existing words, which makes it unique. The word’s uniqueness is one of the main reasons NC State was able to obtain federal trademark registration for it. If we use “Pack” as a shortened form of “Wolfpack,” this usage runs the risk of endangering our trademark by contradicting the rationale for obtaining it in the first place.

Therefore, using Wolfpack is always preferred, but where space is restricted or when a less formal context calls for the use of a shortened form, use an apostrophe before “Pack”:


The apostrophe reinforces and protects the Wolfpack trademark by informing the reader that the word they’re seeing is a contraction of Wolfpack. The apostrophe also differentiates the word from the generic word “Pack” in the collegiate and athletic markets, which is used to refer to the Green Bay Packers and the University of Nevada Wolf Pack, for example.

Note also that the proper punctuation to use is an apostrophe (’), which denotes a contraction, rather than an opening single quotation mark (‘).

Keystrokes Ctrl + ” will generate the ’ apostrophe mark on a Windows machine. On a Mac, type Opt + Shift + ].