EA Still on the Hook for NFL Likeness Misuse; Wins on Sanctions Motion in the Meantime

As we have previously reported, Electronic Arts Inc. continues to be under fire for trying to evade responsibility for its alleged unauthorized use of thousands of NFL players’ likenesses in its video games, most notably in Madden NFL. On March 29, 2018, the retired players filed a motion in opposition to EA’s third attempt at summary judgment. According to the retired players’ motion, they represent a proposed class of over 7,500 other retired NFL players who claim to have been similarly aggrieved by EA’s…
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MLS Joins eSports Phenomenon

On January 12, 2018, Major League Soccer (MLS) announced that it partnered with Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) to create an eSports league, eMLS. The league will feature the best EA Sports FIFA 18 players in the United States and Canada. eSports is a form of competitive video gaming where gamers participate in  tournaments such as the International, the League of Legends World Championship, the Evolution Championship Series, and the Intel Extreme Masters, in order to win cash prizes. Nineteen of the 23 MLS teams will
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Retired NFL Player’s Suit Against Madden Games Maker Continues

On December 11, 2017, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg refused Electronic Arts Inc.’s (EA) request to be dismissed from a retired NFL player’s putative class action. The suit alleged that EA improperly used the retired players’ likenesses in Madden video games. The putative class action was filed in 2010 and claimed EA violated their publicity rights by including their likenesses in Madden games without obtaining permission from 2001 to 2009. Although the retired players’ names do not appear in the game, the players claim their…
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Former NFL Players Oppose EA’s Play to Dismiss Madden Suit

On September 1, 2017, a proposed class of former NFL players moved a California Federal Court not to dismiss their suit against Electronic Arts (EA), game maker, for the use of their likenesses in the Madden video games. EA is attempting to remove the remaining five claims of the suit after it was successful in August in dismissing the former NFL players’ claims under a state law statute. EA claimed that the former players’ remaining publicity rights claims are preempted by the Copyright Act. The…
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Are EA’s Visual Representations in Madden Generic Enough to Avoid Liability in Publicity Claim?

In 2010 Michael Davis and other former NFL players filed suit in California, alleging that video game maker Electronic Arts (EA) violated their rights of publicity when it used famous teams from the past in Madden games from 2001 until 2009. In their complaint, the retired players argued that while EA obtained permission from current players to use their names and likeness, the company failed to do so with the retired players. While the former players did not allege that their names actually appeared in…
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One of These Things is Not Like The Other: Electronic Arts and Retired NFL Players Argue Over Class Certification in Likeness Suit

On September 22, 2016, Electronic Arts and retired NFL players who claim that “Madden NFL” uses their likeness without permission argued over class certification in a California federal court. At the hearing, the parties debated whether publicity is a property right and the feasibility of ascertaining thousands of players’ avatars. The players’ attorney, Brian Douglas Henri, stated that suit was properly brought under California state law, reasoning that EA’s headquarters are in the Bay Area. Judge Richard Seeborg questioned why state law should apply when…
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Game Over: SCOTUS Refuses to Hear Appeal on Sports Video Game First Amendment Issue

On Monday, March 21, 2016, the Supreme Court refused to hear Electronic Arts Inc.’s appeal from a Ninth Circuit ruling that the First Amendment did not protect it from a class action suit brought by retired NFL players. The underlying lawsuit, originally filed in 2010, arises out of the inclusion of “historic teams” in EA’s popular video game “Madden NFL.” Specifically, the suit alleged that EA’s use of “historic teams,” past teams that were particularly popular or famous, impermissibly violated players’ state-law rights of publicity.…
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NCAA, EA Seeking Attorney Sanctions

On Monday, October 12, 2015, defendants NCAA and Electronic Arts, Inc. (EA) filed a petition urging a federal court to sanction plaintiffs’ attorney Scott Kron for “profane” and “outrageous” outbursts during a meeting. The lawsuit — a class action alleging unauthorized use of student-athletes’ names and likeness — ended in a $60 million settlement in June. However, two student athletes objected to the settlement and have appealed the court’s denial of their objections. Nathan Harris, one of the two objectors, is represented by attorney Scott…
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Student Athletes Appeal Settlement in Class Action Lawsuit Against NCAA, Electronic Arts

A new development emerged Wednesday, September 16, 2015 in the case against Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) and the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) as two plaintiffs are appealing the approval of a $60 million settlement. The case—a class action lawsuit brought by student athletes—involves the use of students’ names, images, and likeness in EA’s NCAA video game series. The class action has two underlying lawsuits: Keller v. Electronic Arts Inc. et al and O’Bannon, Jr. v. National Collegiate Athletic Association et al. A…
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Electronic Arts Cannot Escape ex-NFL Players’ Lawsuit

On Tuesday, January 6, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied Electronic Arts’ motion seeking dismissal of a lawsuit brought by ex-NFL players who claim EA used their likenesses without permission in ‘Madden NFL’ videogames. The lawsuit, initiated in April of 2012, is very similar to the lawsuit against Electronic Arts brought by former NCAA players for EA’s unlicensed use of their likenesses in sports videogames.  This time, it is ex-NFL players bringing the lawsuit for the use of their likenesses in the ‘Madden…
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