Sports Team Licensing

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Sports Team Licensing

The best way to secure the rights to create licensed products for sports teams in the US is by applying for licenses through the various sports leagues. These are the National Football League, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, and Major League Soccer, among others.

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE LICENSING PROCESS

  • NFLP is the representative of the National Football League and its member professional football clubs to license their marks and logos.
  • 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) and compliance with all Federal, state, and local laws.
  • The licensing process for NFL franchises involves the potential licensee completing a pre-qualification form after reading and agreeing to the terms and conditions. The form will only be downloaded once you agree to the terms and conditions.
  • 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 will be filled in the form.
  • The completed form should be mailed to NFLP New Products Department, 345 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10154. The NFLP do not accept fax or email submissions.
  • An assessment of the application to determine if the proposed goods are qualified to carry the NFL trademark.
  • After application there is a 90 day wait between application and approval.

NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION (NCAA) LICENSING PROCESS

  • IMG College Licensing represents the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and 200 of the top universities.
  • The licensing process is divided into three phases.
PHASE I
  • The applicant will complete the License Application then "Pay the Application Fee via credit card or check or money order is drawn from a U.S. bank".
  • Send a generic sample of the quality of each item to be licensed.
  • Complete and submit the "Compliance Questionnaire for Corporate Responsibility and Supply Chain, including the Factory / Supplier Information Form". Corporate responsibility standards are here.
PHASE II
  • The applicant should obtain insurance and provide an insurance certificate and additional insured approval to IMG College Licensing. The link to the insurance requirement is here.
  • Applicants to "register for logos on-demand" and send artwork specific to the institution via BrandManager360.
  • Applicants to provide relevant suppliers' agreement with authorized manufacturers.
  • Applicants are also required to "fully disclose factory site locations for vendor/suppliers, including business location, to IMG College Licensing, pre-order “Officially Licensed Collegiate Product” hologram labels or hangtags through J Patton, provide finished product samples for the applicable Institutions that maintain this requirement, and register with the Fair Labor Association if obtaining a license for one or more FLA affiliated Institutions."
PHASE III
  • This phase involves reviewing and signing special agreement on Labor Codes of Conduct, and License Agreement. Once the license agreement is fully executed, the Hologram labels will be shipped by J Patton.

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION LICENSING PROCESS

  • The qualification needed to obtain a license for the National Basketball Association (NBA) are: Payment for royalties, annual minimum guarantee, and merchandise credits on license products.
  • An applicant should complete this form. Information required includes general company information, merchandise distribution procedures, bank references, nature of the business, and an overview of the licensee's business plan.

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL LICENSING PROCESS

  • All applicants for a Major League Baseball (MLB) trademark license must complete an application form.
  • A copy of the completed form should be sent to Alex Pigeon in digital form to this email address: alex.pigeon@mlb.com.
  • Original forms should be completed, signed and send to "MLB Advanced Media, L.P. c/o Alexander C. Pigeon 75 Ninth Avenue, 5th FL, New York, NY 10011. Phone number (212) 485-3444.

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE LICENSING PROCESS

  • NHLPA is the body responsible for National Hockey League licensing.
  • 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, and 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. company biography and executive management) and providing the company's history in the retail business to illustrate the company's purpose in applying for the licensing agreement.

MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER LICENSING

  • The application process for MLS Soccer licensing involves sending an email to gear@mlssoccer.com, the Licensing Division, MLS & SUM Properties.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

We began our research by looking into industry publications such as Small Business Chron and sports franchise websites. We used the information provided in the leagues' websites to come up with the findings. The website for the National Hockey League did not provide much information on the process of licensing. We were forced to rely on information provided by third parties. Our research determined that the best way to secure licensing rights involves a process in common use by both professional and collegiate sports teams.
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