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Magpies 'caught in AFL licence deal breach'

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Court documents reveal Collingwood players signed unauthorised memorabilia after the club's 2010 premiership win.

Court documents reveal Collingwood players signed unauthorised memorabilia after the club's 2010 premiership win. Photo: Vince Caligiuri

Collingwood players breached the AFL's collective bargaining agreement by signing unauthorised memorabilia after the club's 2010 premiership win, court documents reveal.

The unauthorised signings left the club's licensed memorabilia agent ESP Merchandise about $500,000 short of their projected sales, a Victorian Supreme Court judgment has revealed.

Collingwood is still holding thousands of dollars' worth of product because of the unauthorised memorabilia in the market, the judgment reveals.

Justice Peter Vickery today granted an injunction preventing Melbourne company Hard On Sport (HOS) from selling unlicensed AFL memorabilia.

More than 150 items of allegedly unlicensed AFL memorabilia including signed guernseys and photos were seized during a court-ordered raid on two Melbourne premises connected to the company in September.

The memorabilia allegedly included guernseys bearing AFL trademarks used without the league's consent and signed guernseys, shorts and football boots bearing trademarks "substantially identical" to AFL trademarks.

Justice Vickery's injunction restrains HOS from "procuring the creation of, keeping, distributing, offering for sale or selling memorabilia which is not authorised by the AFL".

In his judgment, Justice Vickery said HOS' managing director David Sumiga was a passionate Collingwood supporter who had a large amount of Collingwood memorabilia for sale.

Mr Sumiga "would put up an amount of funds that was given to a contact at each club", the judgment said.

Mr Sumiga would invite players to come to his home to sign autographs and would "pay each member of a club to sign unauthorised AFL memorabilia," it said.

Justice Vickery referred to an affidavit from Christopher Round, a solicitor for the AFL and ESP, about a conversation he had with Scott Davidson, the director of ESP.

"Davidson told Mr Round that after the 2010 Collingwood premiership win, ESP could not sell much official AFL memorabilia as the Collingwood players had signed so many unauthorised products," the judgment said.

"All of this unauthorised product was signed in breach of the collective bargaining agreement."

Mr Davidson told Mr Round ESP had projected sales of $1.4 million from the Collingwood win, but sold only approximately $900,000 worth.

"Collingwood is still holding thousands of dollars worth of this product as there is so much unauthorised memorabilia in the marketplace," the judgment said.

The injunction preventing HOS from selling unlicensed memorabilia will remain in place until a trial in December.

Collingwood Football Club chief executive Gary Pert said in a statement:"I've been made aware of the fact the AFL is investigating potential breaches of merchandising agreements, but at this point I've not been made aware of any specifics."

AAP

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