There was some big news at the Industry Summit. Panini announced an exclusive autograph deal with Stephen Strasberg. Topps is changing the way they work with customer service and distributors. And Upper Deck will be returning with a MLBPA license for 2013.
Upper Deck no longer had a MLB license soon after the 2009 season before Topps became the sole heir of MLB trading cards. But with Panini returning to baseball recently with a MLBPA license, Upper Deck has now also acquired that license and will be producing baseball cards once again, back to the foundation of their company.
Upper Deck regaining a license to produce baseball cards is a big deal. While Topps is continuing their exclusive license until 2020, Panini has slowly been making a name for themselves despite not having the ability to use logos. Another competitor in that MLBPA licensed genre is good for the industry. In fact, it will probably help improve those types of products until the MLB finally decides it can’t live with an exclusive license. Upper Deck has always been an innovator and with that new challenge of the MLBPA license, they will do what they do best, innovate. How many ways can a piece of cardboard be created without logos? What else can be done? Panini has done some great things with changes in photography and cropping, but with fresh minds working on it, can we see great things from this realm?
I think Upper Deck may be just what unlicensed sports cards needs to push the envelope even farther.