How do I sell items with sports logos?
August 29, 2006 6:49 PM   Subscribe

I am looking to sell a new product, and I would like to have team/league (NBA, NFL, MLB, colleges) logos printed on it. How do I go about obtaining permission and paying licensing fees?

The product is easy to work with, and I have figured out how to print the logos on the item. Is there a certain volume of sales at which I need to concern myself about licensing fees? I would like to get blanket approval for all teams and pay a consolidated fee to a central place if possible.

I have googled and can't seem to find any reliable information. Google comes up with individual colleges whose fees are ~7-10% of the manufacturing or retail price.
posted by bagels to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) from Major League Baseball site

I did not got to, but if you google "national football league licensing" (without the quotes) I am sure you will find similiar.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:07 PM on August 29, 2006

Is there a certain volume of sales at which I need to concern myself about licensing fees?

Yes: 1 item. If you sell it without licensing, and they find out about it, they'll come after your ass.

I don't think there's really a general-purpose answer for this; you have to contact each league and try to make a deal with them.
posted by staggernation at 7:13 PM on August 29, 2006

I used to work in the licensing department of my undergrad university. Generally, each school handles their own licensing in-house, or individually farms it out to a licensing firm. The procedure was that potential licensees had to send in a sample, and the licensing director would decide whether it was a suitable product for the school's image, and decide on a fee. I'm sure it was a nightmare for them -- but I got a lot of freebies printed with the logo of schools I didn't attend.

The flip-side of this headache is that it was a small, two-person department. If you didn't get a license and weren't local, we wouldn't find out unless it was offensive enough to piss off an alumni, or after they got busted by some other school. The t-shirt store around the corner would always try and put out designs that weren't approved, just hoping they would sell-out before they got caught. I'm sure a professional sports league will be much more attentive.

Of course, that was years ago. Nowadays, if your product is Google-able by the team name, you'll probably be busted.
posted by smackfu at 7:28 PM on August 29, 2006

MLB Properties handles licensing for Major League Baseball. They will probably require you to send samples to quality control (used to be Peggy O'Neil's folks, don't know who it is now).
posted by Calloused_Foot at 9:50 PM on August 29, 2006

As Smackfu says, and according to this link, for colleges you contact them directly. Or you could ask this company directly?

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posted by Boobus Tuber at 4:44 AM on August 30, 2006

This is the kind of thing you need. This is for the MLB, but most major Licensors (in this case, sport governing bodies or players associations or agencies representing them) will have their own version. I work in this area - definitely do not use their intellectual property (including logos, player names, images etc) without a signed agreement in place. If you are sucessful (and be prepared, it will be hard work and you will need to provide extensive evidence of your experience in manufacturing consumer items, retail relationships, distribution networks etc) you will probably pay an up front advance (minimum guarantee) which will be based on your first year forecast and then a royalty on every item sold. Royalties depend on the category of product and can be anything from less than 5% (FMCG, electronics) to more than 20% (memorabilia). You will also have to get creative approval for every item you produce, submit forecasts regularly, provide annual business plans etc. Good luck!
posted by londonboots at 5:42 AM on August 30, 2006

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