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The Players Choice Group Licensing Program

The MLBPA’s “Players Choice” group licensing program utilizes the collective marketing power of Major League Baseball players to assist licensees and sponsors who want to associate their brands and products with the excitement that Major Leaguers can provide. Through an individual agreement with each player, the MLBPA holds the exclusive, worldwide right to use, license and sublicense the names, numbers, nicknames, likenesses, signatures and other personal indicia (known as “publicity rights”) of active Major League Baseball players who are its members for use in connection with any product, brand, service or product line when more than two players are involved.

These rights include instances where the publicity rights of three or more players are featured on a single product (for example, a single poster featuring three or more players) or where three or more players are featured on individual products within a product line (for example, a series of three posters or other products, each of which features only one player). Also included are promotional uses in which players are utilized to promote the brand, product or service of a third party in connection with corporate sponsorship, advertising, promotional materials, sweepstakes, contests, premiums, events or other programs.

Among its other benefits, the Players Choice licensing program protects the rights of players from exploitation by unauthorized parties. It provides marketing services few players could provide for themselves and facilitates the licensing of products, such as baseball trading cards and video games, which probably would not exist without the availability of such “one-stop” shopping. Through this program, the MLBPA selects licensees to produce high-quality products, reviews and approves all products, advertises and promotes licensed products to enhance the image of players, conducts retail programs to boost sales, and audits licensees to ensure that royalties are paid.

Primary product categories are trading cards and collectibles, electronic games and wireless products, apparel and novelties. Promotional programs include such partners as Pepsi, Burger King, Carl’s, Jr., McDonald’s, Armour Foods, and others. The licensing program also includes special events such as the Players Choice Awards and the Big League Homerun Challenge, in addition to, the Players Choice on the Web.

Revenues from the Players Choice licensing program are utilized to pay expenses of the program and to support MLBPA programs, including the charitable foundation, the Players Trust. Upon authorization from the Executive Board of the MLBPA (consisting of players), proceeds from each calendar year, after appropriate deductions, are distributed to the players on a pro rata basis, according to the number of dues-paying days accrued by each player on an active Major League roster or disabled list during that year. The Executive Board often determines to utilize a portion of licensing proceeds for payment of extraordinary expenses, or to retain them for future use. Licensing shares also are distributed to Major League coaches, managers and trainers.