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Discussion Starter #1
I have been trolling these forums for quite some time researching for my sports t shirt company. I know one would need licensing if they put a team logo on a shirt ie. Denver Broncos. But if I wanted to put an image of a player on the tee, would i need licensing??
 

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What's up Calvin Johnson?

Yeah, you would definitely need a license to use a player image. There are a lot of issues with this type of venture.

Copyright infringement:
Photographic images are copyrighted by the photographer who took the image. So using an image without license or permission would be infringing on the copyright of the image.

Right of Publicity:
All people, whether they are famous or not, have the exclusive right to profit off their own name and likeness. So if you use any names or likenesses without license or permission, you would be violating their right of publicity.

Trademark infringement:
If any trademarks are identifiable in the image you use, you would be infringing on that trademark. For instance, if you are doing a design of Derek Jeter and the Yankees "NY" logo is visible on his hat or jersey, that would be infringement.

Licenses:
Many athletes have exclusive sponsorship and individual merchandise agreements, as well as being part of the league and players association merchandising agreement. If you are using a player who is part of an existing license to produce merchandise, you would be violating that agreement.

Violation of any of these issue could get you sued. The only legal way to do it is to get specific license or permission from the individual player or league.

Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
so basically what you are saying is even if i had the permission of the photographer who took tim tebows picture i would still need tebows permission in order to put that pic on a shirt?
 

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Correct.

If the photo had no Broncos, NFL or company logo (Reebok, Under Armour, etc) anywhere on his gear, you would only need Tebow's permission (in addition to the photographer, of course).

If the photo has any of those marks, you would need league permission or license as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
thanks for the info, but it is kind of discerning because a lot of my shirts were going to feature athlete faces :mad:
 

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Yeah, I hear ya. But better to learn now than to learn from the NFL's attorneys after they send the cease & desist letter... lol.

Anyway, you can try contacting the player's agent. You may be able to negotiate a license. Tebow will be tough, he's too popular. But you can probably find other players.
 

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Tim is correct. You cannot use personality images without their permission.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yes, Tim you are right. Great advice. Do you guys know if I would have to be paying Tebow/agent a fee? or a percent of my sales?
 

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Do you guys know if I would have to be paying Tebow/agent a fee? or a percent of my sales?
Probably both. That is typical of a licensing agreement. Royalty percentages are probably around 5-15% of sales. Upfront licensing fees will vary. I'd say Tebow would run at least $5,000-10,000 a year. But that's just a wild guess. Doesn't hurt to find the contact info and send along an e-mail or make a call.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
heres another question for you. If I had a graphic designer draw up cartoonish picture of tebow with no broncos or other trademarks do you think i would need licensing??? hmmm
 

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Sorry, still need licensing. If it's any kind of likeness of a player, it requires license or permission.

In fact, caricatures could even be tougher. The company I used to work for had an exclusive license to design caricatures for about two dozen NBA players. So in addition to the player's approval, it's possible another company also has the rights to do that type of design or artwork.
 

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If you go to our website you will see several licensed NFL Players Association designs.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
so i would need licensing just for caricatures? ugh! my business would be revolving around many different players so spending 5-10k just for tebow would destroy my whole budget. I think i might email the NFL players association
 

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so i would need licensing just for caricatures?
Yeah, any usage of a players likeness would require it. Doesn't matter if it is a photographic or artistic representation.

I think i might email the NFL players association
Last I read, an NFL license was $100,000 a year and they were not accepting new apparel license applications.

I hate to keep sounding so negative, but usage of players is so difficult without legit license or permission. Any thoughts on doing more generic stuff?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
No its alright if you sound negative. At least i am being informed now instead of later, so thank you. i had a couple other ideas like doing vintage jerseys without logos or names, just colorways
 

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I think using retro and vintage colors is really cool. Reebok has a retro label and Mitchell & Ness is pretty known for it too. But if you can do some creative designs and find a niche that those two companies are missing, then there could be something there.
 
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