Intellectual Property Attorney

Update: E.A. Sports And Collegiate Licensing Company Reportedly Agree To Pay $40 Million To Settle Right Of Publicity Litigation

We previously posted a blog about a lawsuit filed in New Jersey by former Rutgers University quarterback Ryan Hart against video game manufacturer Electronic Arts, Inc. (a/k/a E.A. Sports), alleging that Electronic Arts violated Hart’s right of publicity by using his likeness and biographical information in video games without his consent. We subsequently posted a
blog regarding a similar case in California involving former Nebraska and Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller and others (including former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon).

As reported by The New York Times, Electronic Arts and Collegiate Licensing Company have now agreed to settle the California lawsuit by making a payment to the former collegiate athletes. The amount of the settlement, while not disclosed in court papers, has been reported to be $40 million. The settlement does not involve the NCAA, which remains a defendant in the case and has indicated its intention to continue to defend the matter.

The settlement comes as Electronic Arts announced that it will not produce a college football video game next year. In settling the matter, Electronic Arts indicated that it was merely stuck in the middle of a dispute between collegiate athletes, who want to be compensated for the use of their publicity rights, and the NCAA, which has rules that prohibit any compensation to collegiate athletes.

While the settlement will likely have limited impact on Electronic Arts, which produces a bevy of alternative video games, the outcome of this and related litigation may potentially have a profound impact on the NCAA, which is currently involved in licensing the rights to collegiate sports broadcasts and other media, including video games. Should the courts ultimately hold that the athletes’ rights of publicity are being violated, the NCAA may be forced to share with the athletes the profits earned from major collegiate sports.

Please continue to check this blog frequently for updates regarding these developing right of publicity cases.

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