What is Sports Licensing?

Sports LicensingSports licensing is a term that applies to the agreements between teams and individual athletes and the producers of merchandise and other products. Every team in the world uses partnerships and agreements to get new uniforms with players and to create new clothing and merchandise for fans. Those working in this specialized area also reduce the risk of counterfeiting and stop companies from infringing on the trademarks of teams and individual players. They work with a wide range of people to create new deals.

Working with Teams and Athletes

Those working in sports licensing often work closely with teams and the players on those teams. They often work with college and professional teams, including the MLB and NFL, but they may also work with AAA farm teams and teams lower on the professional ladder. Experts working in this field take into consideration the needs of the teams, managers and anyone else working for the team and find ways to meet their needs. They might help a player and his or agent find endorsement deals, or they might work with a team to get their new logo on tee shirts and other merchandise.

Market Research

A major part of the licensing industry is market research. Industry experts conduct focus groups that bring a group of fans to a room. They ask those fans questions about how they feel about the team and players on that team. They then show the participants different products, including new logo designs, clothing and posters used for advertising, and ask the participants for their opinions on those products. Market research experts also stay informed about what other teams did in the recent past, the number of sales relating to team merchandise and even how well specific teams performed and how their performance impacted sales.

Working with Production Companies and Agents

According to Darren Heitner of Forbes, the licensing industry saw sales of $698 million in 2014, and those sales included merchandising agreements between major teams and the apparel and accessory manufacturers that created products for those teams. These companies produce products that let fans show their love of their favorite teams and players. Those working in the licensing industry often create deals between companies and teams. This lets only a small number of companies make goods that relate to a team. They may also work out agreements that let a company or organization sponsor a specific team.

Preventing Counterfeiting

Counterfeiting is one of the major problems found in the sports licensing industry. This occurs when a company that does not have a deal with a team uses the team’s logo or players in unapproved ways. This may include producing and selling counterfeit jerseys, rugs with the team logo on the front or even illegally replicating the autographs of players and coaches. Industry experts believe that counterfeiting can cost the industry millions of dollars every year. They work with the federal government to investigate claims of counterfeiting and to stop others from manufacturing and selling products that violate trademark and copyright laws.

Related Resource: Sports Agent

The sports industry includes teams playing at the professional level, amateur organizations and those playing at the college level. They help teams get the equipment that they need for games and practices and provide fans with high-quality merchandise and other products. With sales rising each year, the sports licensing industry may soon be a billion dollar industry.