Topps Gets MLB Exclusive
Upper Deck Doesn’t
Published: 08/06/2009, Last Updated: 08/07/2009 09:12am
Major League Baseball announced today that it had awarded an exclusive multi-year license to produce baseball cards using MLB marks to The Topps Company, effective January 1st. Upper Deck retains a license with the player’s association, which allows it to use player’s likenesses, but Topps will have the exclusive rights to use the MLB brand, Jewel Event and club trademarks, logos, and other MLB intellectual property.
The move ends MLB’s relationship with The Upper Deck Company, which has been producing baseball cards since its very first product in 1989. MLB consolidated with just two companies, Topps and Upper Deck, in 2006, after a proliferation of licensees that began in the late 80s and early 90s.
Not only was Topps the exclusive MLB licensee from 1966 to1981, it’s also owned by a former MLB franchise president, Michael Eisner, who was president of the California Angels while at the Walt Disney Company.
The NBA recently consolidated its trading card licenses with one company, Panini (see “Panini Buys Donruss Playoff”), which leaves only football and hockey (of the four major sports) for other companies such as Upper Deck. Football has traditionally been a weak second to baseball in the pantheon of sports card sales, and hockey is last.
Upper Deck did not respond to our inquiry regarding reports that three vice presidents were laid off from the company on Monday.
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