How To License Sports Memorabilia

How to license sports memorabilia involves working with sports personalities, sporting leagues and someone in the legal profession to produce and promote a product. While licensing sports memorabilia doesn't require a deep knowledge of sports, it helps to have a keen eye to who is on the crest of popularity in order to make the most money.

To license sports memorabilia, you will need:

  • legal knowledge or a lawyer in the know about contract law and licensing
  • sports memorabilia design
  • contracts
  1. Decide on a focus. Licensing sports memorabilia involves determining just what you want to license. Memorabilia is a huge industry that involves clothing, art work, decals, trading cards, toys and countless other products. Determine what product or items interest you and fit within your budget. Big ticket items, such as sports jerseys, require big investments compared with something small, like car decals. 
  2. Target a sports personality or team. Once you've determined the product that meets your standards and interest, target a rising sports personality. This is really a tough step that involves more than picking out someone or a team you like. Unless you plan to wear a couple hundred thousand jerseys, you need to pick an athlete that other people also like.
  3. Research personality or team. Get out newspapers, go to sports Internet sites and read blogs to figure out what sports celebrity is starting to trend big in popularity. You need to start research early and select four or five folks for your product. Remember, other people are doing the same thing you're doing, so getting to a person first will take quick action and a great idea. 
  4. Research product. Planning this step after researching a personality or team might appear to be the reverse action, but most athletes aren't interested in a generic product. The product must be designed specifically for them. Research on the Internet and in stores around the country to see what's offered. Go to the websites for stadiums and teams to see what is marketed. Avoid their materials and pick something interesting and unique. 
  5. Design a unique product. This step is the same as inventing something, only now the product must match the licensee in some way. It's true that soccer player Lionel Messi could market a jersey from the Barcelona team, but it's also true that the team might have something to say about their logo and copyrighted team image used on any new jersey. The product must focus on the individual, the sport and the team, as well as be a unique offering that fans can't find any place else. 
  6. Put out cash for a sample product. This is the bummer part about how to license sports memorabilia. Nobody is going to sign on to endorse anything that they can't, or their representative can't, touch and assess the quality. Talk is cheap and the only thing that will bring a deal is a set of drawings, computer images and a sample of the product itself. If you're making up one, better get a spare. You might be required to send the product someplace and it may be lost in the mail. A spare or two sample keeps the discussion in play, even if disaster happens and the original is missing. 
  7. Trademark or patent your design. If it's a good design, someone else may also think so and steal it. Sad, but true. Protect your stuff.
  8. Have your legal eagle make up a contract. Licensing sports memorabilia involves having the athletes and the team's people chat with your people about putting the details of the contract in motion. You don't want to look like you don't have people. Get a basic contract written up with your lawyer before you start chatting. The deal may go down so fast you don't have time to draw anything up. 
  9. Approach target celebrity or team.
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