Panini has delivered the knockout blow in their battle with Upper Deck to lock up the trading card rights for the major universities and colleges in America.
According to a report in the Sports Business Journal, Panini has signed an agreement with the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) to acquire the exclusive trading card rights to the 200 or so schools CLC represents. That list includes Alabama, Michigan, Florida State and Texas A & M.
“Since entering the U.S. market in 2009, Panini has quickly become a leader in the trading card category in understanding consumers and developing unique programs for its partners. Panini’s management team is committed to growing the college category and using their resources and distribution capabilities to benefit our partner institutions,” said Dave Kirkpatrick, Vice President of Non-Apparel Brand Management for CLC, the licensing affiliate of IMG College in a Panini company press release.
CLC previously held an agreement with Upper Deck, but it expired at the end of 2014. UD had been producing football and basketball products using the college logos and trademarks in the absence of owning any rights to the NFL and NBA. The company recently signed a new, exclusive agreement with The University of Notre Dame and will continue to produce products using their trademarks and athletes.
Panini has been gobbling up exclusive agreements with major colleges across the country since September. They started with several schools, including the Universities of Georgia, Kentucky and Miami that had previously broken away from CLC. This is the second large group of rights acquired by Panini as it previously locked up the rights to around 200 or so schools in a deal with Licensing Resource Group.
Panini will incorporate these licenses into its current basketball, football and baseball products starting this Spring. They will also design new products that will be centered around individual schools. This deal has virtually locked up the market on licensed football cards for Panini as they have an exclusive agreement with the NFL that goes into effect in 2016.
“We are excited to add the Collegiate Licensing Company’s partner institutions to our collegiate trading card program. Our strong product portfolio within our professional sports programs gives us the unique opportunity to showcase professional athletes in their collegiate uniforms and will bring a wider array of product offerings on behalf of the schools and will not only benefit fans of those individual schools but college sports fans overall,” said Mark Warsop, CEO of Panini America. “We look forward to building compelling collegiate trading card products beginning in the spring of 2015.”