12 Part Blog Description

Are you looking to learn as much as you can about the business of sports licensing? Then please read the 12 Part "An Insider's Guide to the World of Licensed Sports Products in 12 Parts: Practical Lessons from the Trenches" - all 12 parts of the blog can be found within this site. Click here to start with the Introduction.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

An Introduction to "An Insider's Guide to the World of Licensed Sports Products in 12 Parts: Practical Lessons from the Trenches"

Greeting folks!

This note is written by Scott Sillcox in fall 2023 in response to a lot of readers asking me two questions:

A. You wrote and posted this 12 part blog in 2012-ish, is it still relevant today? Short answer - absolutely! The basics of sports licensing change very little over the years, so I strongly suggest that if you are trying to learn about sports licensing, read away! I have also tried to update certain areas where there have been significant changes, so I feel comfortable in telling you that this information is still highly relevant.

B. You mention that you are a consultant and might be able to help me, do you still do consulting? Short answer - absolutely! I work in the licensing field virtually every day of my life, so if you have questions or would like my help, contact me! The two primary ways I work are hourly telephone consulting ($175US/hour) and face-to-face meetings where I come right to your office for a full day ($1500US/day + $650 travel expenses).

Many thanks and happy reading -
Scott Sillcox

Please also note: This 12 part series initially appeared on my "Heritage Uniforms and Jerseys" blog, but I moved it in March 2012 to this blog which has a more single-focus on the world of licensed sports products.



Have you ever had questions about the world of Licensed Sports Products, perhaps because you are interested in obtaining a license or for any number of other reasons including genuine curiosity?

Maybe you’ve got a great idea for a new licensed sports product and would like information about the licensing of sports products.

Maybe you’ve contacted a pro sports league regarding acquiring a license and have come away feeling a bit unloved?

I think I can help you – largely by sharing some information.

My name is Scott Sillcox and I owned Toronto-based Maple Leaf Productions. Beginning in 1997 and for the next dozen years, we were a licensee of the NFL, MLB, NHL and CFL, and through an associated company, a US collegiate licensee as well. We were licensed by the various leagues to produce a variety of products that were decorated with team logos, team names and other licensed images. The products we produced were plaqued and framed posters, clocks, fridge magnets, playing cards, fanframes, etc. The products were sold across North America by a wide variety of bricks and mortar retailers, catalogues and e-commerce retailers (e-tailers).

I am presenting myself as someone with a good deal of licensed sports product experience, which is absolutely true, but let me make it clear that almost all of my licensee experience was with the NFL, MLB, NHL, CFL and US colleges. If your primary sports licensing interest lies with the NBA, NASCAR, WWE, PGA, UFC or others, I believe my experience and lessons learned are still highly applicable but I would like you to understand that I do not have first hand experience with those leagues.

I liked being a licensee. I got along well with the leagues – I think I can say with confidence that we liked each other. This 12 Part “Insider’s Guide to the World of Licensed Sports Products” isn’t an explosive expose revealing some sort of dark underbelly – that’s because there are no great dark secrets to tell, at least no more so than elsewhere in business. So if you’re looking for skullduggery, buried bodies and hidden agendas, you’ll have to look elsewhere. I consider this 12 Part blog to be a “Share-all”, not a “Tell-all”. I am simply trying to share information about being a licensee in the hope that it will help other people interested in becoming licensees.

Why would I share information?

A. I am sharing this information as a service to people interested in obtaining a sports league license because I know from experience that I would have liked to have known all of this information prior to becoming a licensee – it would have made me a smarter, and therefore better, licensee.

B. I am sharing this information because there may be a handful of people interested in becoming licensees who would like to hire me as a consultant. I know the value of a buck and I have a good work ethic, so if you are interested in first-hand advice from someone with more than a decade of hands-on experience, I’d be happy to hear your story and lend a hand.

C. I am sharing this information as a service to the various leagues. Say that again? The thinking is that an educated potential licensee is much better than an uneducated one. The leagues simply do not have the time or the patience to deal with the seemingly inexhaustible supply of entrepreneurs seeking licenses who the leagues think of as dreamers and schemers and small timers (I say that with affection folks – I’m one of you!).

I get asked about sports licensing all the time. In many cases the questions are quite similar, in other instances the questions are unique. When I found myself answering the some of the same questions again and again, it occurred to me that people might be interested in what I learned over a 15year period, and thus “An Insider’s Guide to the World of Licensed Sports Products” was born.

The 12 Parts of this Licensed Sports Products blog are:
Part 1: How Licensing Works - Follow The Money or How $5,000,000,000 can be less than you think
Part 2: What’s Involved in Getting a License – You need them far more than they need you
Part 3: The Landscape and some of the players
Part 4: Quality Control – Where The Real Power in Licensed Sports Lies
Part 5: Royalty Reporting and Audits
Part 6: Selling Licensed Goods - Why it’s not as easy as it looks
Part 7: Players Associations and Current vs. Retired Players
Part 8: Royalty Rates – Is 12% the norm and when 12% isn’t enough
Part 9: Local Licenses – myth or reality?
Part 10: Packaging
Part 11: Ten Things (Actually 12 Things) I Learned Along The Way
Part 12: Ten More Things (Actually 14 Things) I Learned Along The Way

I encourage anyone with questions to contact me and I would encourage you to watch my 11 minute introductory video if you want to get a measure of who I am.

Thank you for your time –
Scott Sillcox
Email: ssillcox@rogers.com
Cell: 416-315-4736

PS from fall 2023: In case you weren't aware, I created and constantly maintain a searchable Online Directory of 2500+ North American Licensed Sports Products Companies – it can be found at www.LicensedSports.net and only costs $59 to use for three full months. This is a highly searchable directory of licensed sports products companies in North America, companies that have been licensed by various sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA, NASCAR, MLS, etc.) as well as the various players’ associations (NFLPA, MLBPA, NBAP, NHLPA). There is nothing like it anywhere on the internet, and I update the database weekly, oftentimes daily.

Virtually all 2500+ company records have a contact name with title, phone number and email address. In many cases, I list up to six contacts within the company. What's more, many of the records have a Linkedin url so you can learn much more about that contact including if you know people in common.

So if you’re looking for all the licensed sports products companies based in Connecticut, or all of the NFL licensees which sell housewares, or all companies licensed by the NBA and the NHL and MLB for soft goods, check out this terrific and highly searchable resource at www. LicensedSports.net .

PPS from fall 2023: I am a very active consultant to people looking to learn more about the licensed sports product industry - you can find the full detail here.  I spend almost every day in the licensed sports product field and I work with between 300 and 500 clients each year. There are three primary ways I work with people:

1. Hourly telephone consulting
2. Full day face-to-face meetings where I will go almost anywhere in North America to spend a full day with you and giving you a fire hose amount of information that is directly applicable to your circumstances.
3. I have a bundled package of services for those people who know that they want to work with an existing licensee.

So visit here for more detailed info and let me know how I can help you move your idea forward.


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  2. Thank you for sharing valuable information. Nice post. I enjoyed reading this post. The whole blog is very nice found some good stuff and good information here Thanks..Also visit my page. Mortgage Lending Fort Lauderdale Federated Mortgage Services provides an array of financial solutions tailored to your lifestyle.

  3. Hi Scott, I've read many of your blog posts and they're really interesting and informative! I have a simple question (I hope)

    I hand sew green and black fabric bags with drawstring. These bags have no logos or labels, they're just solid colors. I sell them for $30 per bag. I also have several coffee mugs with MLB logos on them. Would it be illegal for me to give away (for free) the MLB coffee mugs with purchase of my handmade bags?

    I would not be selling the mugs with MLB logos separately from the bags in any circumstance, and only customers who *want* a free MLB mug with their hand sewn bag will get one, so some bags will be sold without mugs for people who aren't interested in MLB mugs.

    Thank you for any advice you have for me,

    1. Emily:

      Many thanks for the great note and the answer is slightly nuanced. Answer is part Yes and part No. Could you zap me an email to ssillcox@rogers.com and I will give you a longer reply than we have room for here.

      Thanks -

  4. Hi Scott.

    Thank you for the wealth of informaton you have written. It is very useful and informative.
    I have question regarding the manufacture of a product. I have local (Scotland) business who can make team themed kilt and sporran outfits. I am looking mainly at the NFL and college teams.
    Do i need a license if i use a licensed retailer to sell on my behalf? I would only manufacture and receive orders from retailer, not sure if this is permitted?

    Many thanks

    1. Jon:

      Thanks for the note!

      You mention a "licensed retailer" - for the most part there is no such thing as a licensed retailer (there are a couple exceptions but I'd be surprised if you discovered them). So the quick answer to your questions is "It's not permitted".


      1. Do you mind telling me what retailer you think is licensed? Maybe you've hit upon one of the exceptions noted above, in which case my answer will be slightly different than #2 below.

      2. To answer your question, if you are looking for a partner, you will want to find a licensee who might be interested in buying product from you and then the licensee would sell it to retailers (and perhaps sell a small % direct to consumers from their own website). The alternative to finding a licensee partner is for you to try to obtain your own licenses. As a consultant this is exactly what I try to help people understand and ultimately decide what's best (and most realistic) for them. I can explain how I work if you'd like - just contact me.



  5. Hi Scott

    I really like how you break down the licensing world. One can tell that you have done a lot of work and know your business very well.

    Do you know whether apps using the nfl logo and team logos must go through the licensing you talk about? It seems to be more centered around physical merchandise.

    Thank you

    1. Jared -

      Thanks for the nice words and the question. I'd like to answer this offline - can you zap me your email address ssillcox at rogers dot com.

      Many thanks!


  6. Hi Scott! Thanks for sharing this wealth of information you have learned. Is there any such thing as a crafters license/ cottage license or anything similar for licensed sports goods?

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Stine -

      This is an excellent question and one that I should have touched on in my 12 part series, so thanks for asking. The short answer is some schools have a "Crafters License", others don't. Even if a school has appointed CLC or Learfield or Fermata as their licensing partner, it's possible that the crafter's license is done directly by the school's licensing department. Thus I would suggest that you start by contacting the school directly - try to reach the Licensing Director (or equivalent title), or his/her assistant and ask them your question. They will be able to tell you if they offer a "Crafters License" or not. If they then direct you to CLC/Learfield/Fermata, that's fine, at least you're armed with the knowledge that such a license exists for that school. Just take your lead from the school's Licensing Director.


  7. NFL/NHL/ NASCAR crafters license? per say individual purchases material ,creates stocking, blanket, animal coat etc. as examples . sells direct to customer, is there a license needed? Scott your blog is insainly informative! i believe an individual would not require license if ive understood correctly. Thank you Beck

    1. Hi Beck -

      Neither the NFL nor NHL has a crafters license, not sure abut NASCAR but I would guess not. That's really a collegiate thing. I see that you posted two questions to me and I'd like to answer you directly - can you zap me your email address - ssillcox@rogers.com.

      Thanks -

  8. I'd like to possibly schedule an hour of your time by phone. Is that possible and at what rate? How would we go about setting this up?

    Joann Brandis

    1. Hi Joann -

      Many thanks for your note and possible interest in working with me. If you could send me an email ( ssillcox at rogers dot com ) from your regular email address, we can easily continue this conversation.

      I do telephone consulting at a rate of $175/hour - if that appeals to you, all we would need to do is:

      1. Schedule an hour that works for both of us

      2. You would prepay the $175US hourly fee using Paypal.

      3. Call me on my landline at the scheduled time


  9. Hello Scott. Would I be able to purchase items in bulk and have team logos screen printed on the items or do you have to be a manufacturer to get a license deal?

    1. Steve - No you could not do that, you need to be a licensee to do that. And do you need to be a manufacturer to be a licensee? Yes and no. For pro licensing (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL), yes you need to be a manufacturer to become a licensee, whereas in some circumstances in collegiate licensing you don't need to be the actual manufacturer, just responsible for getting the products manufactured.
      Thanks for the question and good luck!


Thank you for taking the time to add a comment - all input is welcome, especially the constructive kind! All the best - Scott