Sports Team Licensing

Part
01
of one
Part
01

Sports Team Licensing

Licensing agreements are the best way to secure the rights to licensed products for sports franchises in the United States. The licensing process usually begins with an interested party filing an online application through a franchise website. The interested party must provide the franchise with general business information and pay royalties.

SPORTS TEAM LICENSING

  • Licensing agreements with sports franchises are contractual agreements where a sports team gives a particular company license to use the franchise's name, logo, and trademark on commercial products.
  • Small businesses seek to secure licensing rights with sports franchises for the opportunity to generate revenue via licensed products. Any company capable of securing the rights to create these licensed products can maximize their marketing advantage (especially in those cases where the franchise is well-known).
  • Small Business Chron advises that parties interested in licensing agreements should first consult the franchise's website for the licensor's contact information and any online applications the licensee must submit.

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE LICENSING PROCESS

  • The qualifications needed to obtain a license for the National Football League (NFL) are:
    • Three years of experience in manufacturing and distribution.
    • Possession of general insurance and liability policies ($6 million per occurrence and $12 million aggregate).
    • Compliance with all Federal, state, and local laws.
  • The licensing process for NFL franchises involves:
    • The potential licensee completing an online application found on the NFL website. The application should include general business information, audited financial statements, catalog sheets, a credit reference, the licensee's annual report, and agreements to the NFL's terms and conditions.
    • An assessment of the application to determine if the proposed goods are qualified to carry the NFL trademark. NFL Properties must approve all merchandise that will represent the NFL and its franchises.
    • Meeting the NFL's $100,000 minimum royalty guarantee.
    • A 90 day wait between application and approval.

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION LICENSING PROCESS

  • The qualification needed to obtain a license for the National Basketball Association (NBA) are:
  • The NBA's actual application process is most likely similar to that of the NFL's. Information the NBA requires from parties interested in licensing agreements includes general company information, merchandise distribution procedures, bank references, nature of the business, and an overview of the licensee's business plan.

NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION LICENSING PROCESS

  • IMG College Licensing represents the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and 200 of the top universities.
  • Unlike licensing agreements in professional sports, NCAA licensing agreements include licensing agreements with the college the sports team represents. Interested parties should inquire with IMG College Licensing, but there are licensing agencies that can assist with the process (e.g., CLC, Learfield Licensing, and SMA Works) for a percentage of collected royalties.
  • The licensing process begins with an online application through the NCAA website, but the application process itself is the most time-consuming step. After IMG awards the license (and a manufacturing order is in place), the licensee must submit artwork to ensure their replication of the college logo exactly matches the college's specifications and standards.

MAJOR LEAGUE BASBALL LICENSING PROCESS

  • The application process for a Major League Baseball (MLB) trademark license begins with a direct email to the MLB.

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE LICENSING PROCESS

  • The qualifications needed to obtain a National Hockey League (NHL) license are:
    • Five years of experience manufacturing and distributing products to retail stores.
    • The license must be for a product that has been previously available for sale for five years.
    • The licensee must be the manufacturer.
  • The products that the NHL approves for licensing agreements are clothing, electronic equipment, novelties, hats, furniture, sports equipment, published works, toys, trading cards, and other collectible items.
  • The licensing process for the NHL involves:
    • Providing the NHL with general business information (e.g., a company biography and executive management).
    • Providing the company's history in the retail business to illustrate the company's purpose in applying for the licensing agreement.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

We began our investigation with an inquiry into industry publications (e.g., Small Business Chron) and sports franchise websites. Our research determined that the best way to secure licensing rights involves a process in common use by both professional and collegiate sports teams. We have extrapolated and presented that process here, noting differences where necessary.
Sources
Sources