SBD/March 19, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Panini America Inks Stephen Strasburg To Multiyear Autograph Trading Card Deal

Strasburg's first autographed cards will appear in Panini's Prizm series in April
Panini America has signed Nationals P Stephen Strasburg to a multiyear autograph trading card deal, making Strasburg autographs only available in its trading cards. The agreement includes rights to use Strasburg's name and image on packaging. Panini's first Strasburg autograph cards will appear in the company's Prizm cards in April, in which he will appear in his USA Baseball uniform. Strasburg originally had a trading-card exclusive deal with Topps, but that has expired. The announcement of the Strasburg signing comes during the annual trading-card Industry Summit in Las Vegas. MLB rights are the only meaningful U.S. league IP not held by Panini (Terry Lefton, Editor-at-Large).

HOPING FOR UPPER HAND: BECKETT.com’s Chris Olds reported the MLBPA has granted Upper Deck a license that “puts the company, which lost its MLB Properties license in 2010, back into the baseball fold” with three products set to arrive in the coming months. It is unclear “when Upper Deck and the MLBPA may have severed ties, but in 2010 the PA publicly advised its players to stop signing for the company, which had not made due payments.” Now, with “all of its books apparently in order, the MLBPA is allowing Upper Deck to proceed making union-approved cardboard.” That allows it “to use current players (non-prospects) in bulk in its products, but not with MLB-owned logos and names on the cards.” Panini America was “granted the same license" in September '11. Like Panini, Upper Deck’s licensing limitations with MLB “will force some different approaches with photography and design.” Upper Deck Spokesperson Chris Carlin said, “(We're) doing a lot of photo shoots with the actual players that are playing today. Trying to get some unique imagery. Images are going to be important to what fans see. We want to make sure we are doing something that is meaningful for fans” (BECKETT.com, 3/18).

LET'S MAKE A DEAL: MLB Properties and Topps yesterday announced that they have extended their exclusive multiyear licensing deal through '20, in which Topps will remain the official baseball card of MLB. Topps will retain exclusivity on MLB, Jewel Event and club trademarks, logos and other intellectual property, for use on cards, stickers and other product categories. Topps signed its first deal with MLB in '69 (Topps).
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