The term TIGER® comes from the acronym Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing which is the name for the system and digital database developed at the U.S. Census Bureau to support its mapping needs for the Decennial Census and other Bureau programs.
The design of the TIGER® database adapts the theories of topology, graph theory, and associated fields of mathematics to provide a disciplined, mathematical description for the geographic structure of the United States and its territories. The topological structure of the TIGER® data base defines the location and relationship of streets, rivers, railroads, and other features to each other and to the numerous geographic entities for which the Census Bureau tabulates data from its censuses and sample surveys. It is designed to assure no duplication of these features or areas.
The building of the TIGER® database integrated a variety of encoding techniques such as automated map scanning, manual map "digitizing", standard data keying, and sophisticated computer file matching. The goal was to provide automated access to and retrieval of relevant geographic information about the United States and its territories.
The Census Bureau's TIGER® System automates the mapping and related geographic activities required to support the decennial census and sample survey programs of the Census Bureau starting with the 1990 decennial census. The TIGER® System provides support for the following:
The TIGER/Line files are a digital database of geographic features, such as roads, railroads, rivers, lakes, legal boundaries, census statistical boundaries, etc. covering the entire United States. The data base contains information about these features such as their location in latitude and longitude, the name, the type of feature, address ranges for most streets, the geographic relationship to other features, and other related information. They are the public product created from the Census Bureau's TIGER database. The most recent version is the 2004 Second Edition TIGER/Line® Files.
These files are not graphic images of maps, but rather digital data describing geographic features. To make use of these data, a user must have mapping or Geographic Information System (GIS) software that can import TIGER/Line data. The Census Bureau does NOT provide the TIGER/Line data set in any vendor-specific format. With the appropriate software a user can produce maps ranging in detail from a neighborhood street map to a map of the United States. To date, many local governments have used the TIGER/Line data in applications requiring digital street maps. Also, the private sector has used TIGER/Line data to create products that produce maps for government, business and the general public. THE TIGER/Line PRODUCT DOES NOT INCLUDE DEMOGRAPHIC STATISTICS.
The Census Bureau has trademarks on a number of our TIGER-related product names*. The purpose of trademarking these terms is so that customers buying products with those names can be confident in identifying the origin (the Census Bureau in this case) of the products (data) being sold. That shouldn't dissuade anyone from creating products using the TIGER/Line data or even citing our original products as the source of all or part of their product. In fact, many of our products are resold or redistributed by others. Vendors take the basic product, add value to it (snazzier interface, more data, etc.) and resell it. Sometimes they just resell exact copies of the data. That's all perfectly legal and we are happy to see the data redistributed and get wider usage.
The existence of the trademark means, basically, that you shouldn't name your product with one of our trademarked terms, i.e., either calling your product "TIGER", "TIGER/Line", etc. or use a Census Bureau trademark within the name of the product or service. You may refer to the Census trademark in describing the Bureau's component of your product or service. For example, you could say in a product description or advertisement something like this: "Acme Map Data, based on Census Bureau TIGER/Line® files". Ideally, we would also appreciate a statement to the effect that the referenced trademark is a registered trademark of the U.S. Census Bureau. The above discussion is not intended to be a legal brief on trademark law but just a quick summary of the general trademark issues relating to our products.
The Geography Division of the U.S. Census Bureau will consent to license one of its trademarks only under the following conditions. The potential licensee must be a government agency, either domestic or foreign, with whom we have an established working arrangement for common products or cooperative programs. Such an authority is not granted automatically by the preexisting working arrangements but must be requested in writing of the Geography Division. The trademark or trademarks that would be eligible for such licensing would be those directly related to these program activities. The license would last only as long as the working arrangements are in effect. This determination would be the sole purview of the Geography Division. The licensee would not have the authority to "sublicense" to another organization the use of any Geography Division trademark that would be part of the agreement.