Tags: ncaa | suing | ea sports

NCAA Suing EA Sports Over Use of Athletes' Names, Likenesses

Image: NCAA Suing EA Sports Over Use of Athletes' Names, Likenesses Former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon Jr., who filed a 2009 lawsuit against EA Sports.

Friday, 22 Nov 2013 12:43 PM

By Ken Mandel

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The NCAA is suing video game-maker EA Sports and the country's top collegiate trademark licensing firm, Collegiate Licensing Co., in a dispute involving the use of college athletes' names and likenesses.

Filed Nov. 4, the suit states that EA and CLC violated contractual agreements with the National Collegiate Athletic Association involving a claim by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon, who originally filed a lawsuit in 2009, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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The 2009 suit by O'Bannon alleged that an EA Sports' NCAA-branded video game used likenesses of himself and his teammates without compensation. Earlier this month, a judge certified the case as class action, expanding the filing to all top-division football and men's basketball players unless they opt out.

The Nov. 4 filing claims that the NCAA and its business partners violated antitrust law by "conspiring to fix at zero the price of a college athlete's name, image and likeness," the Wall Street Journal reported.

The NCAA blames CLC for not supervising EA in their obligations and that CLC didn't give the NCAA "access to documents and records that the NCAA is entitled to inspect," according to USA Today. The suit also asks for EA to be held liable for any future judgments regarding the company's NCAA-themed video games.

"CLC is caught in the middle of a dispute between NCAA and EA which should not involve us," Andrew Giangola, a spokesman for CLC, said in a statement. "CLC has valued relationships with both the NCAA and EA and while we hope they can soon resolve their dispute, we see no reason for CLC to be involved."

EA Spokesman John Reseburg and NCAA Spokeswoman Stacey Osburn had no comment on the suit, USA Today reported.

In September, EA and CLC hammered out a proposed $40 million settlement regarding the claims of O'Bannon, as well as those of former Rutgers quarterback Ryan Hart and former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston. But the NCAA suit argues that such a settlement was reached "without notice to the NCAA. 

EA Sports develops several titles, including Madden NFL, FIFA, NHL, NCAA Football, NBA Live and NASCAR. The lawsuit prompted the parent company to announce that it will no longer sell the 2014 edition of its college football series.

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