NCAA and EA Sports Get ‘Sacked’ in Lawsuit


They say that smart people learn from their own mistakes, whereas geniuses learn from the mistakes of others. If you are in world of video game manufacturing, you will surely want to learn from EA Sports in regards to player likenesses—the video game manufacturer was sued by a former collegiate quarterback, claiming that it used player likenesses without permission.

The case was first brought to action when former Arizona State and Nebraska quarterback, Sam Keller, filed suit against the NCAA, EA, and the Collegiate Licensing Co. (CLC) in May 2009. Two months later, the more-recognized O’Bannon class-action lawsuit was filed—the cases have since been consolidated. Rob Carey, a partner in the Seattle-based firm representing Keller, explained to stating that, although it is a separate case, it shares a district and that the same precedent will apply in both cases.

The appeals court favored Keller 2-1, stating that the Arizona State quarterback depicted in the 2005 edition of the EA game had the “same height, weight, skin tone, hair color, hairstyle, handedness, home state, play style (pocket passer), visor preference, facial features, and school year as Keller.” In addition, the quarterback for Nebraska in the 2008 edition of the game shared these identical characteristics.

EA Sports claimed that the First Amendment to the Constitution protected its right to publish the game. That defense lost on the district level prior to the most recent defeat in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Keller’s legal representatives believe that the ruling, coupled with the NCAA’s decision not to renew its license with EA Sports, “speaks volumes about the actions of the defendants.” Keller’s representatives will next be looking to apply for class certification.

Photo courtesy of Stephen Dunn /Getty Images, NBC News