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Top 5 Sports Licensing Stories of 2015

By Glenn S. Demby, Esq.

1. Nike Takes NBA from Adidas

In March, Adidas announced that it would not renew its 11-year partnership with the NBA. Nike swooshed in and by June secured an 8-year, reported $1 billion deal to be the Association’s on-court uniform supplier starting in 2017.

2. Adidas Takes NHL from Reebok

Six months after walking away from the NBA account, Adidas won the right to replace Reebok as the NHL’s on-ice jersey outfitter.  The 7-year deal, which starts with the 2017-2018 season, is reportedly worth $70 million a year, roughly twice what Reebok currently pays the NHL.

3. Texas Makes Record Breaking Deal with Nike

A lousy season on the football field was made less painful by the sweet deal the University of Texas made with Nike in November. The renewed apparel license reportedly guarantees Texas $250 million per year over 15 years, the richest contract in college sports and significantly above the $169 million per year Nike paid to take over the University of Michigan account from Adidas.

4. The NASCAR Trackside Retail Reorganization

NASCAR and NASCAR Team Properties overhauled the method they use to sell merchandise trackside at Sprint Cup races. Rather than the old “walk-up” approach in which individual teams sell their own merchandise out of a trailer, the new model, devised by Fanatics, is a “walk-in” setup in which merchandise is sold in specially constructed tents assembled in a courtyard-style mall layout designed to enhance convenience and the fan’s race-day experience.

5. The Washington Redskins Trademark Ruling

In June, a federal judge cancelled the Washington Redskins’ trademark registration as being offensive and a racial slur. The ruling, which the NFL appealed in October, leaves the League and team in a precarious situation. Technically, the team can still use the “Washington Redskins” trademark even without registration. But loss of registration will make suing for infringement to enforce the mark considerably more difficult.

Disagree With My List?

Drop me a line at and let me know what you think is the biggest sports licensing story of 2015.


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