Panini has struck a blow against Upper Deck in the latest chapter of the ongoing battle between the two trading card companies to lock up exclusive contracts with major sports properties. Panini announced Tuesday that it has signed exclusive trading card agreements with over 200 universities, including Mississippi State, Baylor, NC State and Kansas State. All of the schools are represented by the Licensing Resource Group (LRG).
“LRG is thrilled to partner with Panini on behalf of our clients. We are confident Panini represents the best this category has to offer and are excited about the relationship,” said Michael Van Wieren, Vice President & General Counsel, Licensing Resource Group, LLC in a Panini press release.
“This has been an exciting few weeks for Panini America and the future of licensed college trading cards and we’re proud to be at the forefront of a new era,” said Mark Warsop, Panini America CEO. “We now have more than 225 universities signed to exclusive, multiyear trading card agreements – our unmatched retail distribution, commitment to marketing and ability to feature professional players in collegiate trading card products through our group player rights will lead to new growth in the collegiate collectibles category and all of our partners recognize that.”
This announcement comes about two weeks after Panini announced it had signed deals with University of Kentucky, the University of Miami and the University of Georgia. These three schools were previously represented by Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) but cut ties to sign with Fermata Partners. This hurt Upper Deck because they have an exclusive deal with CLC and are no longer allowed to make cards with the logos of those three schools. CLC still represents many collegiate powerhouses, including Notre Dame, Florida, Duke, UNC, Alabama and Tennessee.
On top of the battle for rights to college programs Panini has also secured an exclusive deal with the NFL and NFLPA starting in 2016. Upper Deck owns exclusive rights to the NHL.