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Eye-black maker avoids a shiner
Published June 20, 2005
BMC Custom Eye Black, despite several months of legal turmoil, has landed its largest deal to date, providing its logoed, temporary-tattoo eye black to Topps Co. for its 50th anniversary football card packs this fall.
The deal is in the mid-five-figure range, according to Peter Beveridge, president and CEO of BMC Custom Eye Black, and is for 100,000 units that will be sprinkled in packs of Topps Bazooka Football cards. The eye black is one of several giveaway items from various companies, including stickers and window cling-patches, augmenting the card packs.
The deal follows a victory last month by parent company Beveridge Marketing Co. (BMC), which won a summary judgment in federal court in a patent-infringement lawsuit brought by Mueller Sports Medicine, which holds the patent on adhesive under-eye patches. BMC, founded in October 2003, has exclusive patent rights to logoed patches as well as the temporary-tattoo patches.
The court battle, Beveridge said, resulted in many universities declining to grant BMC licenses while the case was pending, though the company did continue to sell directly to several dozen college teams for their own use.
Mueller filed a notice to appeal last week, according to Timothy Molino, an attorney for Bingham McCutcheon LLP, which represents BMC. Mueller company President Brett Mueller had no comment. Beveridge said he expects to have collegiate licenses this fall. This is the normal course of litigation, Beveridge said. The judge [last month] ruled in a summary judgment, and that sends an unusually powerful message.
BMC Custom Eye Black also has struck high-volume giveaway deals with the MLB Washington Nationals and Tampa Bay Devil Rays this summer and has at least one NFL team, the Green Bay Packers, on board for the fall. Beveridge said hes in discussions with sports apparel companies, as well.
The Topps eye black will read Topps Football 50 Years. Its part of a strategy to keep kids interested in sports trading cards, which recently have suffered in competition with non-sports cards, sports video games and the Internet. The overall market for sports cards is now at $300 million wholesale, down roughly 75 percent in five years, according to Topps own most-recent annual report.
We strongly believe the trading card format works but increasingly, theyre being bought by older, collector-types, said Jeff Haza, Topps product manager for football. The eye black is one of several giveaway items aimed at younger sports fans.
Topps had revenue of $295.9 million in the fiscal year ended Feb. 26, essentially flat over the past three years. Its profit was $11 million in the most recent year, down from $12.7 million last year and $16.9 million two years before. Slightly more than half of its revenue comes from its candy business; trading cards fall under its other division, entertainment.