Denver, CO asked in Trademark and Intellectual Property for Colorado

Q: Is it possible to get approval for use of Denver Broncos logo for apparel?

I'm interested in starting a clothing store and would like to know if it is possible to get permission to use professional sports teams logos and if to go about doing that.

2 Lawyer Answers
Ashley Dean Powell
Ashley Dean Powell
  • Licensed in Colorado

A: It is technically possible, though very difficult. Last I checked (I once had a hat idea that all my friends told me was dumb), the apparel (and hats) categories of licenses were essentially considered "closed" in that the NFL was not interested in talking to new potential licensees. Those categories are probably among the most competitive/difficult to enter. Other, smaller and less popular categories (think different types of products) may be a little easier to enter.

These are the "Minimum Requirements" for a new application to become an NFL licensee (taken from following site: In order for your unsolicited proposal to be considered for the NFLP licensing program, your company MUST:

a. Have a minimum of three years of experience in manufacturing and distribution;

b. Be a manufacturer, NOT solely a middleman or distributor;

c. Have the ability to pay 100% of minimum royalty guarantee upon execution of a license agreement (typically about $100,000 per year) and be able to generate sales sufficient to meet the minimum royalty guarantee on a yearly basis;

d. Maintain from a licensed and admitted insurance carrier with a rating not less than A-VII from an A.M. Best rated insurance company a Comprehensive Commercial General Liability policy in an amount of Six Million Dollars ($6,000,000.00) per occurrence and Twelve Million Dollars ($12,000,000.00) in the aggregate; and

e. Be in compliance with all federal, state and local laws and, where applicable, international rules and regulations, including all applicable labor laws.

I believe that some (maybe all?) teams have limited rights to grant local (as opposed to nation-wide) licenses. That is to say that the Broncos may be able to give you a limited license even if the NFL won't. But I suspect even that is incredibly competitive and difficult.

An alternative is to attempt to build up experience and revenue through licenses with smaller leagues (semi-pro? amateur? colleges?) before attempting to enter the market with the big leagues (NFL, MLB, etc.).

Of course you could also start a retail clothing store by selling the licensed products of others who already have the licenses (you are just the retailer of their product rather than you creating new/original products).

Ashley Dean Powell
Ashley Dean Powell
  • Licensed in Colorado

A: I meant to add the following to my answer before hitting send:

When I was exploring the possibility of my own licensed product, I found some of the articles/references at this blog enjoyable (and informative) to read:

Best of luck.

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