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NHL Player Kit License


OV#8
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Sorry if this isn't the proper forum to post this but I've always wondered how does the licensing for player kits work?

Surely there must be a fee to use NHLPA names on jerseys? They want to protect their product and brand.

Maybe someone in the business can enlighten us.

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I have some experience with these issues because I have studied them in law school (I graduate this May) and I am currently working in a law firm's intellectual property and trademark group.

I am not sure if I fully understand what you are concerned about:

Are you wondering why you aren't charged a fee for a player kit when you get it customized at NHL.com, or EPS, or when you buy a kit on Ebay?

What is likely boils down to is that the companies which make kits, customize jerseys, etc. are almost certainly licensees of the NHL or Reebok. I imagine that they pay a fee in order to use the fonts, numbers, and other unique source identifiers of the teams in the NHL (or whatever league) and Reebok. My guess is that the overall licensing is done by Reebok because they design the jerseys and fonts if I am not mistaken, and they split the licensing revenue with the respective leagues.

As to why the players are not compensated individually, or as a group through the NHLPA, my belief is that they are. I'm sure that the NHLPA receives a portion of the merchandising revenue the league receives, but is it limited to jerseys or more specifically, jerseys which individual player's names on them? I really doubt it.

Players certainly want to protect their brand, but within the confines of their name being associated with how it is portrayed on league apparel (for instance, jerseys or shirts with the team's logo) they likely sign waivers as part of their employment allowing the league to use their name in a number of ways.

Here is an interesting article on Pavel Datsyuk that may be interesting to you: http://kuklaskorner.com/tmr/comments/sipple-pavel-datsyuks-lawsuit-against-local-businessperson-is-a-reluctantly?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

I have not seen any of the Pasha shirts, but from the description on that page we can draw some conclusions. The reason why the NHL is suing this guy is likely because he has not used the TM of the Red Wings on the shirts, only the color scheme and the numbers- neither of which on their own are infringing on the NHL's trademarks. Also, the store owner has not used Datsyuk's actual name. If he had, and the shirts were red/white, with #13, and Datysuk's name, even without the Red Wings logo maybe the NHL would have considered bothering him. The basis of Datsyuk's claim against this store owner will be that his products are misappropriating his likeness and causing consumer confusion, and from the quotes in that article it seems like he may have a very good case. If it goes to trial it could make for an interesting hockey-centric opinion.

Take all of this with a grain of salt. I am not a lawyer yet but I have some basis of knowledge in this area. I can try to elaborate and answer questions if you have them, but there is a lot about this stuff I do not fully understand.

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Thanks for the response!

That's what I figured - the NHLPA needs to charge companies for the rights to use player names otherwise people would be making their own t-shirts, etc. while effectively shutting out the NHLPA from any additional revenue.

My question is directly related to jersey customization - lots of shops offer customization. I assume they have a license or outsource it to a firm that has one. Makes sense.

I guess its interesting who controls the license? Is it Reebok or NHLPA? I would guess NHLPA as Reebok just makes the jerseys, they do not have inherent right to the player names.

Anyways, quite interesting how sports business works.

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I don't think the NHLPA is as involved with the licensing as you may think. While the NHLPA is a representative body of the players, it functions more as a union than as a stand alone business, at least from what I can tell. On the other hand, the NHL is a business entity and is equipped to negotiate and monitor licenses with its distributors and partners from beer attendees drink to the socks the players wear.

It is likely not the NLHPA who charge the distributors. I believe it is likely Reebok because they designed the jerseys (with input from the teams and graphic design agencies I assume). Remember too that Reebok makes more than just jerseys, it makes t-shirts, hats, and almost every other piece of apparel NHL teams wear. They probably have what is called an exclusive license (meaning they are the only company) to supply team worn apparel (hats, work out shirts, hoodies, jerseys, socks, issued by the team).

Reebok then likely splits that revenue with the NHL, who then gives a certain percentage to the NHLPA from which each player receives a cut (hockey related revenue?).

The NHL/Reebok (who ever manages the licenses) must have a right to use the players' names within certain contexts or else they'd be forced to keep tallies on how many Zetterberg, Giroux, or Gagner shirts, jerseys, or sweatshirts were produced by each entity holding a license- and then distribute fractions of that money to the players. It would be impractical and basically madness. There must be a clause of each player's contract which gives the NHL or their licensing entity the right to use their name in association with the sale of certain hockey merchandise. This is part of contract theory, each side gives up something (consideration) to the other party. In this case the players give up exclusive rights to the use of their last name in exchange for cash. The NHL gives up cash to get rights to use the player's name.

Instead the license is probably a flat fee or a percentage on total sales of NHL/Reebok merchandise, which is then divided up among the licensors.

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Some info here on NHLPA licensed products ...

http://www.nhlpa.com/inside-nhlpa/business-affairs/player-licensed-products

Typically NHLPA kits from places like Stahls come with a NHLPA hang tag. For a while in the late 90's some customizers would even add the neck tag on the right below to the jersey to show it used a licensed kit.

a24w3a.jpg

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Thanks man, there you go- I was totally wrong on that one. My bad OV#8.

I don't think you were totally wrong and I do think you added some great insight. I just think the NHL and NHLPA are more separate on these things. I know products in the past that had a license deal with the NHLPA but not the NHL (first set of McFarlane hockey figures) and vice versa.

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Thanks man, there you go- I was totally wrong on that one. My bad OV#8.

You provided some great info - it was a good read. You always hear about the NHLPA complaining that there is no transparency from the NHL in terms of what is included in hockey related revenue. So its definitely possible that the NHL controls some things while the NHLPA controls others.

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I have some experience with these issues because I have studied them in law school (I graduate this May) and I am currently working in a law firm's intellectual property and trademark group.

I am not sure if I fully understand what you are concerned about:

Are you wondering why you aren't charged a fee for a player kit when you get it customized at NHL.com, or EPS, or when you buy a kit on Ebay?

What is likely boils down to is that the companies which make kits, customize jerseys, etc. are almost certainly licensees of the NHL or Reebok. I imagine that they pay a fee in order to use the fonts, numbers, and other unique source identifiers of the teams in the NHL (or whatever league) and Reebok. My guess is that the overall licensing is done by Reebok because they design the jerseys and fonts if I am not mistaken, and they split the licensing revenue with the respective leagues.

As to why the players are not compensated individually, or as a group through the NHLPA, my belief is that they are. I'm sure that the NHLPA receives a portion of the merchandising revenue the league receives, but is it limited to jerseys or more specifically, jerseys which individual player's names on them? I really doubt it.

Players certainly want to protect their brand, but within the confines of their name being associated with how it is portrayed on league apparel (for instance, jerseys or shirts with the team's logo) they likely sign waivers as part of their employment allowing the league to use their name in a number of ways.

Here is an interesting article on Pavel Datsyuk that may be interesting to you: http://kuklaskorner.com/tmr/comments/sipple-pavel-datsyuks-lawsuit-against-local-businessperson-is-a-reluctantly?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

I have not seen any of the Pasha shirts, but from the description on that page we can draw some conclusions. The reason why the NHL is suing this guy is likely because he has not used the TM of the Red Wings on the shirts, only the color scheme and the numbers- neither of which on their own are infringing on the NHL's trademarks. Also, the store owner has not used Datsyuk's actual name. If he had, and the shirts were red/white, with #13, and Datysuk's name, even without the Red Wings logo maybe the NHL would have considered bothering him. The basis of Datsyuk's claim against this store owner will be that his products are misappropriating his likeness and causing consumer confusion, and from the quotes in that article it seems like he may have a very good case. If it goes to trial it could make for an interesting hockey-centric opinion.

Take all of this with a grain of salt. I am not a lawyer yet but I have some basis of knowledge in this area. I can try to elaborate and answer questions if you have them, but there is a lot about this stuff I do not fully understand.

With all due respect, you are completely incorrect.

Teams choose their own customizer for the on-ice product. Any customizer selling their services OUTSIDE of that product owes the NHLPA licensing royalties for the player names they've put on a consumers jersey (which is actually collected by NHL licensing). Whether or not they choose to go after these guys is a different story.

Reebok has no dog in the customizing race as they only make the jerseys and pay the NHL to be the exclusive jersey manufacturer. They make their money on the teams buying their s***ty jerseys at outrageous prices, as well as selling all of you their s***ty jerseys at outrageous prices. Then one wonders why so many counterfeit jerseys are being made and sold.

As far as the fonts are concerned, the league and the team develop those together as a package with the logo, or, at the time of a new look on the jersey. It is usually left up to the team if they want to make a change or not (i.e. LA Kings switching back to white/black/silver and keeping the "old" font style).

Currently, Stahl's is THE ONLY licensee for NHLPA with regards to the customization of jerseys. When a Stahl's kit is sold to a retailer to put on a jersey, they sell the license to apply it to that ONE jersey, in the way it was sent to the retailer. So, the number size could be off, the outline could be off, the letter size could be off, and the name plate is twill with twill letters instead of 1.0 or 2.0 material. Keep in mind that each NHL customizer makes the letters and numbers to THEIR OWN SPECS and not that of the NHL. The spec sheet that the NHL provides is simply a guideline for sizing and location of letters and numbers. Obviously, for simplicity, Stahl's would make everything a standard size.

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Keep in mind that each NHL customizer makes the letters and numbers to THEIR OWN SPECS and not that of the NHL. The spec sheet that the NHL provides is simply a guideline for sizing and location of letters and numbers.

Interesting commentary. So, does the NHL actually have some sort of official font guide for all teams that it makes available to retail customizers who do up jerseys for the public? Or are the official team customizers NOT required to send in "official" on-ice fonts to the NHL for reference? If the latter is true it would explain why all of us have such a hard time getting our jerseys customized accurately by customizers who claim to use on-ice fonts.

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Interesting commentary. So, does the NHL actually have some sort of official font guide for all teams that it makes available to retail customizers who do up jerseys for the public? Or are the official team customizers NOT required to send in "official" on-ice fonts to the NHL for reference? If the latter is true it would explain why all of us have such a hard time getting our jerseys customized accurately by customizers who claim to use on-ice fonts.

The NHL does have an official font guide for each team. With that said, the sizing of such is left up to the customizer.

So yes, EPS for example can do an LA Kings jersey, HOWEVER, it won't be done to the EXACT specs that Bobcat does it as the Kings customizer, if that makes sense.

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Junkyard, thanks for the info. It's what many of us assumed/feared.

I know when Johhny did his in depth research into Flyers customization he found that the team customizer makes little tweaks regarding the thickness of the font, size of the holes on the numbers etc. I'm sure they aren't the only ones.

In the end it's always best to try to use the official customizer of the team if possible.

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With all due respect, you are completely incorrect.

Teams choose their own customizer for the on-ice product. Any customizer selling their services OUTSIDE of that product owes the NHLPA licensing royalties for the player names they've put on a consumers jersey (which is actually collected by NHL licensing). Whether or not they choose to go after these guys is a different story.

Reebok has no dog in the customizing race as they only make the jerseys and pay the NHL to be the exclusive jersey manufacturer. They make their money on the teams buying their s***ty jerseys at outrageous prices, as well as selling all of you their s***ty jerseys at outrageous prices. Then one wonders why so many counterfeit jerseys are being made and sold.

As far as the fonts are concerned, the league and the team develop those together as a package with the logo, or, at the time of a new look on the jersey. It is usually left up to the team if they want to make a change or not (i.e. LA Kings switching back to white/black/silver and keeping the "old" font style).

Currently, Stahl's is THE ONLY licensee for NHLPA with regards to the customization of jerseys. When a Stahl's kit is sold to a retailer to put on a jersey, they sell the license to apply it to that ONE jersey, in the way it was sent to the retailer. So, the number size could be off, the outline could be off, the letter size could be off, and the name plate is twill with twill letters instead of 1.0 or 2.0 material. Keep in mind that each NHL customizer makes the letters and numbers to THEIR OWN SPECS and not that of the NHL. The spec sheet that the NHL provides is simply a guideline for sizing and location of letters and numbers. Obviously, for simplicity, Stahl's would make everything a standard size.

My apologies, and thank you for the correction.

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  • 2 weeks later...

With all due respect, you are completely incorrect.

Teams choose their own customizer for the on-ice product. Any customizer selling their services OUTSIDE of that product owes the NHLPA licensing royalties for the player names they've put on a consumers jersey (which is actually collected by NHL licensing). Whether or not they choose to go after these guys is a different story.

Reebok has no dog in the customizing race as they only make the jerseys and pay the NHL to be the exclusive jersey manufacturer. They make their money on the teams buying their s***ty jerseys at outrageous prices, as well as selling all of you their s***ty jerseys at outrageous prices. Then one wonders why so many counterfeit jerseys are being made and sold.

As far as the fonts are concerned, the league and the team develop those together as a package with the logo, or, at the time of a new look on the jersey. It is usually left up to the team if they want to make a change or not (i.e. LA Kings switching back to white/black/silver and keeping the "old" font style).

Currently, Stahl's is THE ONLY licensee for NHLPA with regards to the customization of jerseys. When a Stahl's kit is sold to a retailer to put on a jersey, they sell the license to apply it to that ONE jersey, in the way it was sent to the retailer. So, the number size could be off, the outline could be off, the letter size could be off, and the name plate is twill with twill letters instead of 1.0 or 2.0 material. Keep in mind that each NHL customizer makes the letters and numbers to THEIR OWN SPECS and not that of the NHL. The spec sheet that the NHL provides is simply a guideline for sizing and location of letters and numbers. Obviously, for simplicity, Stahl's would make everything a standard size.

I need to make a correction to my post.

I was informed yesterday that EPS does pay the license fee to customize jerseys, joining Stahl's as an NHLPA licensee.

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In the end it's always best to try to use the official customizer of the team if possible.

Agreed! I don't care if the customizer has an NHLPA license or not. If they're accurate, I'm buying from them.

I can always add one of these if I want to:

NHLPA_Tags.jpg

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Junkyard, thanks for the info. It's what many of us assumed/feared.

I know when Johhny did his in depth research into Flyers customization he found that the team customizer makes little tweaks regarding the thickness of the font, size of the holes on the numbers etc. I'm sure they aren't the only ones.

In the end it's always best to try to use the official customizer of the team if possible.

Here here! Bruins jerseys are a prime example. Use EPS for their letters and watch how wrong it comes out!

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