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NHL and NHLPA row about their respective licensing deals

EA, Take-Two caught in middle.

The NHL and the NHLPA continue to argue over the issue of exclusive third party videogame licenses, as negotiations are resumed with both Electronic arts and Take-Two Interactive.

According to a report on EAHockey.com, NHL executives are very much in favour of issuing multiple third party licenses and have openly objected to the exclusive agreement reached between the NHLPA and Electronic Arts.

EA had reached a deal with the NHL Player's Association earlier in the year, granting the publisher exclusive third-party rights to player's names in a six-year, USD 44.2 million deal. By beating the NHL to the table in talks with EA, the NHLPA positioned itself to take a majority of the revenue, none of which would be paid into the league.

In response, the NHL sought to extend its own license for league and team trademarks with NHL 2K publishers, Take-Two Interactive, and refused to extend its license with EA unless the NHLPA also granted a license to Take-Two.

If the situation continued, the result would be an EA franchise with an accurate player roster but no real-life team or league trademarks, and the opposite for Take-Two, disappointing fans of both company's titles. As a result of the stalemate, negotiations have resumed with all parties, and an agreement is expected to be reached soon.

Brian Jennings, group vice president, consumer products marketing, at NHL Enterprises commented: "We remain confident we will have a video game category that will have multiple partners supplying software to the new consoles. We feel pretty confident we have basically reached in-principal understandings."

Jennings' apparent optimism may be premature however, as NHLPA executive director Ted Saskin commented: "To the extent you wanted to bring in third-party licensees like Take-Two, there would have to be adjustments made. It would only be in situations that made sense for EA and the players’ association and the category."