EA tackled by more sports license suits

Browns superfan, former UNC football player, and boxers' association have publisher on defense regarding Madden NFL, NCAA games, and Fight Night Round 4.

Former Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown's suit against Electronic Arts over his unnamed likeness appearing in Madden NFL games has been dismissed, but the publisher's courtroom battles are by no means over. In the past three months, three new likeness lawsuits concerning the publisher's various sports games have hit courts around the country.

"If it pleases the court, may I suggest a 10-minute recess so I can go walkies?"

Brown isn't the only Cleveland sports icon taking issue with Electronic Arts' Madden NFL franchise. In July, John Big Dawg Thompson (yes, that's his legal name), the mask-wearing pack leader of Cleveland's Dawg Pound, filed a complaint against EA in the Cuyahoga Country Court of Common Pleas seeking restitution for the alleged unauthorized and unlicensed use of his Big Dawg persona in Madden NFL 09.

Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame's inaugural Hall of Fans class in 1999, the Big Dawg character sports a bug-eyed dogface mask, orange hardhat, oversize dog bone, and a Browns jersey with the number "98." A similarly outfitted fan wearing a "92" jersey can be seen in Madden NFL 09 in the same section of the Cleveland Browns' stadium where Thompson appears during the team's home games. Thompson is seeking damages in excess of $25,000 and that EA be prevented from selling the game or using the Big Dawg character without permission in the future.

While Thompson has the publisher in court over its pro football sim, EA Sports' NCAA basketball and football games have drawn another suit. Earlier this month, former University of North Carolina left guard Bryon Bishop filed suit against EA, as well as the National Collegiate Athletic Association and its licensing arm.

Bishop, who is seeking class-action status for his suit, claims that the trio has conspired to violate the NCAA's own by-laws prohibiting the for-profit use of amateur athletes by including likenesses--but not names--of current athletes in its NCAA-branded games. In those games, players only bear a number corresponding to an actual student athlete and are typically given the same height, weight, skin color, hairstyle, and home state as their real-life counterparts.

The suit seeks damages for all amateur athletes whose likenesses have been included as such in EA's NCAA games, as well as for the games publisher and its partners to give up all profits garnered from those titles. A similar suit was filed in May by former Arizona State and University of Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller.

Fight Night Round 4 has spawned disputes both in and out of the ring.

Finally, EA is facing a suit filed earlier this month by sports management company Fighters, Inc. Founded in 2007, Fighters, Inc. is a group licensing organization with a goal to be for boxing what official players associations are for other sports. The company is suing EA over Fight Night Round 4, claiming the publisher included clients like Kelly Pavlik, Jorge Arce, and Fernando Montiel in violation of exclusive group licensing agreements they had signed with Fighters, Inc.

The licensing group further claims that EA willfully violated the deals with its boxers, and continued to do so after Fight Night Round 4's release, pursuing fighters like Andre Berto and Andre Ward for downloadable content updates for the game. Fighters, Inc. is seeking at least $25 million in actual damages, with punitive and statutory awards on top.

EA declined to address any of the three cases, saying it had no comment on pending litigation.

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112 comments
BLKCrystilMage
BLKCrystilMage

Seriously, who gives a crap about the Browns? They're even worse than the damn Bengals.

pb1285n
pb1285n

to blaznwiipspman1: Oh get over yourself. Do you even know anything about the "hot coffee" lawsuit? 1. McDonalds had over 700 suits that were settled out of court due to coffee burns. McDonalds for years served their coffee at temperatures reaching 190 degrees. To compare, coffee at home is normal served at around 135 degrees. 2. The woman that eventually became famous due to the lawsuit suffered third degree burns over 6% of her body because the brewed their coffee at 185 degrees and required skin grafting and years of treatment. 3. She only sued because McDonalds refused to pick up the cost of her medical treatment. 4. This wasn't about labeling coffee hot, this was about serving a beverage at a dangerously high temperature. Oh and why shouldn't this guy sue? For years the NCAA has refused to allow players to seek out endorsements while they make a profit.

blaznwiipspman1
blaznwiipspman1

lol USA is a joke, this kind of stuff wouldn't even be given a second thought in Canada and the rest of the world. Only in USA can you sue for coffee being too hot and become a millionaire

corespoon
corespoon

good maybe madden can't make anymore crap games and now someone like 2k can pick up.

Tombackman_5
Tombackman_5

America, where being recognized is a punishable violation.

mustained13
mustained13

It's not longer "hey look at me I'm in a video game" it's "hey look at me I'm in a video game time to sue somebody".

dzimm
dzimm

madden75: "The Big Dawg guy actually has a case, as he is obviously unique, EA using his image without his consent IS illegal." They're not using his likeness, they're using the likeness of a cheap Halloween mask that he happens to wear. If anybody had a case it would be whoever designed the mask.

frogman666
frogman666

there is no way to prove that's big dog anymore then the guy who was wearing masks to avoid traffic tickets I'm sure there is more then one fat guy who wears a dog mask just like the cheese heads in GB

cjasko94
cjasko94

Haha I'm a Cleveland Browns fan. And I think the Cleveland Cavs will get a win before they do. Big Doggg!!!

inline243
inline243

If college players are suing EA then why don't they also sue every TV station, website, college, newspaper, college magazine, and jersey company for actually using their names to make a profit??????? Colleges make way more money on tickets, clothing, etc.. than EA ever will.

OneBadLT123
OneBadLT123

If you agree with it or not, that's fine. But you have to remember, EA is making millions of dollars off this product and is using these images and persona in order to gain profit. Do you buy a game for the likeness of these people? No, but you do get entertainment value from it, and therefore purchase it. Giving EA all the profits without sharing with the people who help promote it. Even if it is a little part of the product. Bottom line, EA is making millions of dollars and these people in these lawsuits aren't seeing a penny from it.

Sparty_On
Sparty_On

These lawsuits are baseless and should be throw'in out of court the people suing EA are greedy Sam Keller who's just upset he didn't get millions in the NFL. I think it would be cool to have my likeness in Madden, NCAA Football.

Hollaback77
Hollaback77

Looks like a bunch of idiots looking for a handout to me.

rygar9
rygar9

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

eric1996
eric1996

without names they should be able to do what they want. ea ponies up alot of cash to get the nfl licenses to begin w/ this lawsuits are supid now if they use their names w/out permission then thats another story i think everyone is looking for a payout

gretz802
gretz802

Big Dawg should get smacked in the face cuz it's not his real image that's being used... anyone can wear that mask. Unless he has that image trademarked, he has no case... it's an image associated w/ the franchise (just like Browns fans who throw beer bottles at the referees). Personally, I'd rather be wearing a brown paper bag over my head if I were at those games. As far as the NCAA goes, a player loses eligibility if their likeness is used in ANY promotional material.... it's a pretty lame rule. So, when I see something like this done w/o a player's consent, it makes me sick. A friend of mine nearly lost his eligibility because his photo was to be used for a summer basketball camp brochure (luckily, he was able to have the camp remove the photo before sending them out) . The NCAA is a joke of an organization and pulls in loads of ca$h every year and has no shame in breaking their own rules in these situations. Of course, we all want to be in a game, but EA should at least not make it so obvious by including each person's full bio & jersey # right out of the box. This disgusts me. Take it back to the old days where you had to manually edit the players name/bio/etc. on your own.

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

This is silly! Only in America. I am a huge Carolina fan, but their suit is the most ridiculous. They are trying to say that EA is using their likenesses? Gimme a break! I know EA is a huge company, who seems to corner the market, but these claims are total rubbish.

DEWMAN08
DEWMAN08

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

NuKkU
NuKkU

omg please stop it greedy people

madden75
madden75

The Big Dawg guy actually has a case, as he is obviously unique, EA using his image without his consent IS illegal. However, I don't think he'll win what he is asking for, other than the removal of his image from the game (or small restitution). To the folks that don't get why he has a case, companies do not have a right to profit from an individual's likeness without their consent, it's as simple as that.

YoJim8obaJoe
YoJim8obaJoe

man when will people who already have enough cash stop being so greedy,hope he gets leoprosy of the balls

MadGamer132
MadGamer132

now everybody is suing EA, please stop.

SiD_N64
SiD_N64

I can solve this... EA, stop making games! problem solved....

electro57
electro57

With the Browns as bad as they are right now, I am not surprised that loser Browns fan Big Dawg has turned his attention to something else.

education
education

This is pathetic. Suing over video game likenesses? Come on people! I'd be honored to have my likeness in a game. This dog headed mask thing from Cleavland is suing? What a joke.

Henninger
Henninger

Good i dont like EA 2 begin with!!!!!

enoslives7
enoslives7

At least the worthless lawyers are getting rich on all this nonsense.

squidracerX
squidracerX

hey if we made a video game and included "likenesses" of athletes in the sports that EA has exclusive deals in, you bet they would be suing us. So why should they be able to use likeness that THEY didn't pay for? All these jerks care about is money (jerks on BOTH sides). That's why I hate professional sports, some running back getting 9 mil a season, i don't think the winner of a "fight to the death street brawl" should get 9 million dollars, and they would be putting their lives on the line, much less an "professional athlete".

zodiackilla
zodiackilla

greedy greedy people just wait until the end comes and see what all that money has brought you lololololoohahahahahah

zodiackilla
zodiackilla

Sounds like the players that dont make it into the nfl are getting there money another way lol its all about the money

glaceya
glaceya

this is what happens when a company wants to monopolize, they end up taking more liberties than they are legally allowed. This is great news, maybe now other developers can get in on the sporting action.

cajunstrike
cajunstrike

@ Rottenwood: Agreed. The epitome of 'snake-bitten'.

bowlingotter
bowlingotter

@get_shorty I would hope so. That franchise was headed for great things and was the last time Madden was forced to actually improve itself

Get_Shorty
Get_Shorty

Soon soon I'll be playing football again with real football names on NFL2K again.

WarGameJunkie
WarGameJunkie

bizuit--Actually the Supreme Court would probably take the lawsuits against EA and the NCAA. This Browns fan doesn't have a prayer though. The lawsuits against EA and the NCAA have the potential to change college athletics, and college athletic departments, forever. That's the kind of case that the Supreme Court will consider if it's brought to them IMO. But we're a long, long ways off from that. IMO Keller and the UNC bball player will probably both be defeated because of the decision in the EA case involving Jim Brown. If Keller and the UNC bball player lose, I don't think they'll have the cash to appeal it all the way to the Supreme Court.

gameweasl
gameweasl

"The company is suing EA over Fight Night Round 4, claiming the publisher included clients like Kelly Pavlik, Jorge Arce, and Fernando Montiel in violation of exclusive group licensing agreements they had signed with Fighters, Inc." Is it EAs fault, or the fighters fault for knowingly signing over their likeness when they knew they were part of a union that had exclusive rights to them???

real_nimrod
real_nimrod

hmm, apparently this dog fellow has suffered massive damage ($25grand)...appearing in video games must be his weak point

bizuit
bizuit

KSigMTSU, for some reason I can't see the supreme court taking these stupid suits....

BlacktheHeart
BlacktheHeart

i might as well sue ea for letting me be able to put myself in those games.

ohjtbehaaave
ohjtbehaaave

All lawyers should die a fiery painful death.

shawn7324
shawn7324

More lawsuits, the losers just keep lining up.

KSigMTSU
KSigMTSU

Frankly I wish they'd appeal this to the supreme court, I think its possible there are grounds for this case to be dismissed for reason that as a public figure their likeness is not legally available to be licensed independently because their group holds the rights to make that decision. Basically, if the NCAA gives permission, the individuals do not have the right to sue. As conservative as the SCOTUS is right now, there is a reasonable chance this could be the result.

supermike6
supermike6

Can people down there go five minutes without suing someone? This is crazy.

winnazdaluza
winnazdaluza

I wish EA would stop producing sports games for a year(yeah i know impossible ) and show these felahs what it would be like for there not to be a major sports franchise in gaming.I know most of those pllayers and people suing are secretly thrilled to play EA games and point out all the noticable characters in it.EA should get fed up and give em what they want and close up shop --there guys you happy??

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

Anyone who roots for the Cleveland Browns should be awarded some money, strictly out of sympathy.

Knightmare2K8
Knightmare2K8

Why is he complaining if its not even him?He wears #98.Thu dude in the game is #92!