After digesting the news for a day or so, Upper Deck says MLB’s decision to give Topps the title of official card maker won’t be an issue.
Topps may have won the courtship of Major League Baseball but the Upper Deck Company isn’t about to abandon the sport that made it famous in 1989.
The upstart company now has 20 years of production under its belt and despite having lost the right to use logos and trademarked MLB images, it plans to continue producing baseball cards.
Left with an exclusive NHL trading card license and shared rights to produce football cards for the NFL, Upper Deck will have to be creative in its presentation.
“Looking ahead to 2010, we are 100% committed to building the highest quality and most innovative baseball cards in the industry,” said Upper Deck CEO Richard McWilliam. “We look forward to announcing more details on our product portfolio in the coming weeks.”
Upper Deck upped the bidding when it hit the sports card scene in 1989, pushing all companies to increase the quality of the cards they were producing. In a news release, Upper Deck also touted its "innovative programs that promote baseball cards to kids", perhaps a nudge at Topps, which trumpeted a desire to reach out to young collectors when its exclusive deal was announced last week.
Upper Deck stated that it had committed more than $21 million dollars to increase kids’ interest in baseball cards. "Through annual television advertising campaigns, numerous retail promotions and online initiatives such as Upper Deck’s Kids Rewards and the current UpperDeckU.com virtual world, Upper Deck has led the way in dramatically increasing household penetration of kids collecting sports cards from 8% in 2005 to a reported 44% in 2008," the company stated.
Upper Deck reached a deal this summer to renew its contract with the Major League Baseball Players Association, giving it the right to use player images on its cards. The MLBPA license agreement provides access to more than 1,200 current Major League Baseball players. Upper Deck stated it would continue to include autographs and pieces of game-used equipment in its packs. "Great cards of great players will continue to be the cornerstone of all Upper Deck products,” added company president Richard McWilliam.
Despite MLB’s deal with Topps, it is in MLBPA’s best interests to work with Upper Deck to turn out quality products, with or without MLB logos and trademarks.
“We’re looking forward to continuing the partnership with Upper Deck, a licensee that is clearly focused on the long-term growth of the trading card category," said Judy Heeter, MLBPA Director of Business Affairs & Licensing. "We believe strong competition is generally good for consumers, and expect that our ongoing relationships with both Topps and Upper Deck will ensure consumer choices that lead to category growth."
Licensing didn’t stop Topps in the 70s: Read the Editor’s Blog
Track Upper Deck prices on eBay