Football legend Brown sues EA, Sony over Madden

All-time-great NFL running back takes exception to games having historical Cleveland Browns teams with number 32 as running back.


Among other new features, this year's Madden NFL 09 features the licensed names and likenesses of some retired gridiron greats. Previously, Electronic Arts included historical teams in its games by omitting names and faces, and merely including numbers. For instance, Cleveland Browns great Jim Brown would appear on a team simply as a running back with amazing stats and the jersey number 32.

This could get ugly...
This could get ugly...

However, even having a faceless, nameless player bear his number was too much for Brown. Today, Bloomberg reported that the NFL hall-of-famer and 1970s action-film star has filed suit against Electronic Arts and Sony, alleging that they profited from his likeness and identity without his permission. According to a copy of the suit obtained by GameSpot, Brown found out earlier this year about the use of his number in Madden games, specifically Madden 2001.

Sony is named in the suit for its role in the manufacturing and distribution of the games. No mention is made of Microsoft or Nintendo, who would have played similar roles for versions of the games on their platforms.

The game included an "All Brown's Team," according to the suit, which featured "a muscular African American player wearing the number 32." Brown believes that the game infringes on his rights and acts to dilute "his inherently distinctive, and arbitrary trademark as the All-Time Great Cleveland Brown Running Back."

The suit notes that modern players sign away their likeness rights when joining the NFL player's union, but when he played, there were no video games and no union to get the rights from.

Brown asks for an injunction against EA selling the game, the forfeiture of all materials bearing his likeness, and the disgorgement of all profits earned from the sale of infringing Madden games.

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Avatar image for Joser15

wow... this is pathetic.... y wood u sue only sony if microsoft & nintendo will also distribute this game??? mayb its a conspiracy of some sort... seriously... 1 the nfl owns that # from the browns and ea got the rites from the nfl .... so they arent doing anything wrong... y wood u sue ea 4 making such a great game anyway... this is bad publicity on his part & who really plays with 1 of the old Brown footnball team... "headscratcher" dont ya think well lets see wat happens... if some how this dude wins and PS doesnt get 2 distribute it..... therz gonna b alota hate mail for this guy by the whole PS community

Avatar image for death11dragon

haha suing the wrong people, it not the console's job to get licenses, it will be more reasonable to just sue EA, might as will just sue the whole gaming industry :D and Sony... he would get more money if he sue Microsoft This shows stupid people come in different sizes, shapes, wealth, and status

Avatar image for Packfan104L4


Avatar image for TheSlaya

Yeah, sue Sony but not Microsoft and Nintendo for also manufacturing and distributing the game. Sue all three or none at all, Brown. I don't see any wrongdoing done by Sony in the first place.

Avatar image for Ra-Devil

I hate stupid people.

Avatar image for sdkingsht

seriously? he has no face and no name in the games. and who really buys Madden to play with the All Browns team? i doubt even 1% of their sales have anything to do with the Browns. he's broke and a Sony hater. :lol: MicroSoft probably paid him to do it to get back at Peter Moore and Sony.

Avatar image for coolmanray

As much as I cant stand EA, this is a little much by Jim Brown. Why do people continue getting the Madden games. I miss the "old" days of 2K and 2K1 football.

Avatar image for pidow

We have not right to say Brown is broke or the game world is right to use his likeness without his permission...the game world is getting paid so why not Brown......the all mighty dollar rules the world, not people.

Avatar image for comelstr

Go Jim Brown. Hate EA

Avatar image for Pedro7_2000

I'm no lawyer, but it seems like he may have some form of grounds for this suit based on this sentence, "The suit notes that modern players sign away their likeness rights when joining the NFL player's union, but when he played, there were no video games and no union to get the rights from." Odds are he settles out of court for lots of $$$, but we shall see!!

Avatar image for BigBoi17

Ummm....Why is he suing Sony? Damn Sony just has haters everywhere they go hot damn man.... I don't even know how Microsoft dodged this bullet. He must have a 360 lol

Avatar image for Shinedown220

He must need the money.

Avatar image for Psyfon

Someone's pockets are empty. Time to start grabbing for straws.

Avatar image for smbius

Jim Brown is broke. That's why he's doing this. You don't see Barry Sanders doing this (Greatest RB Ever). EA has used his number many times.

Avatar image for residentzombie2

Mortal_Medic And do you know what most lawyers have to do for years to even get paid a decent wage considering the amount of schooling required? Most end up working the public court system scene defending rapists, murderers, thieves, addicts, abusers, and general idiots. And the reason why there are so many new lawyers trying to enter the leagal system? Once they get their degree they see the large profits to be made once in the industry. It's a sacrifice thousands are more than happy to make every year. Why do most go into paralegal and public defender roles when graduating? Because there are so many lawyers already established and currently practicing these new lawyers are just happy to be practicing law period. Imaging if everyone ONLY went to school for law, everyone would sue everyone every single day of the week. It's not quite that bad now but it is starting to develop into this on a smaller scale. Lawyers begging people to sue so they can have a case to work on. "No fee unless we win for you" The courts need to crack down on these frizolous lawsuits but that is hard because alot of politicians have a legal background themselves. Again money, money, money, greed, greed, greed. Sorry though shouldn't have said 'free money' should have said 'easy money' Another problem is the lack of doctor graduating from Med School most kids want to do lawyer for riches instead of doctor for riches because becoming a doctor is alot harder and more headaches once practicing medicine. Plus most doctor enjoy helping people and don't do it solely for the money whereas it is becoming less and less that people enjoy helping others instead of screwing others over

Avatar image for ParisSun

Brown would lose this if it went to court. But I think he knows he doesn't have a case. But you can still get paid if the company just decides to settle than bother with the hassle and legal fees.

Avatar image for ps3thabest

just sony and ea ? wat the hell? gamespot loves this

Avatar image for volcomstoner180

this guy is a idiot...all time biggest idiot maybe not all time great running back (even tho he was incredible in his time)

Avatar image for Majin_Neo
Majin_Neo 7 years later and he wants to cause a problem....good idea lol

Avatar image for jasonlc3221

xkojimax wrote: "he must be broke and desperate." What was your first clue? The fact that he starred in some crap-tastic action movies in the 70's?

Avatar image for xkojimax

he must be broke and desperate.

Avatar image for jasonlc3221

I think ol' Jim Brown is gonna lose this one. Sorry buddy, to EA, it's just the number 32 and great stats. Hell, that could just be Marcus Allen (pretend he was traded to the Browns).

Avatar image for cajunstrike

Agreed. Suit not likely to be successful.

Avatar image for residentzombie2

Mortal_Medic Healthcare is always expensive, when have you EVER heard someone complain about healthcare being so cheap that it is a burden to have to deal with it? Never, because there are still millions of people in the US without healthcare. The millions that you are refering to are illegal immigrants. Dig deeper into that stat. I work in the healthcare industry I understand the players involved. I never said healthcare is only expensive due to lawyers, I said it stems from them (meaning they are the first to blame of many) people scam insurance companies all the time and then they complain about premiums? Ha what a joke. The mortgage crisis stems from greed and greed is everywhere and most people reading this are greedy themselves. There has been a moral fiber breakdown with America since the late 60's and has only gotten worse. Everyone wants millions but doesn't want to do anything to try to EARN it the right way. 'Malpractice' say that word to a doctor and watch him pee in his pants in fear. Why do you think medical professionals now make you sign waivers that you won't sue them? Doctors are humans and our creator never made humans perfect. We all make mistakes and people need to understand this. Pharacutical companies are another large reason that your Group coverage from your employer is so expensive. $150 for 30 pills of a cholesterol pill that has been on the market for decades. Money, money, money, greed, greed, greed all of us need to step back and think more of our neighbor before we destroy ourselves over pieces of paper and material things that won't last forever.

Avatar image for necronaux

I doubt he'll win. It will open up a huge can of worms. Every player in the history of sports will try to sue game makers, for past, present and future, if their former number is used.

Avatar image for CMakaCreative

I think I seen a game that didn't have my name or likeness but wears my number too. Everyone who knows me knows I wear number 13. Should I sue too. Blah. Jim Brown was a hell of a running back but c'mon. What I'm more concerned about is if Farves uniform on the cover gonna match the uniform he's wearing when he plays this year. Some say he might be a Viking....didn't they already have a Viking on the cover.

Avatar image for The_Fell_One

He's probably only suing one company so he can test the waters. If he wins this suit, it's likely that Nintendo and Sony will settle out of court. I find it unlikely that he'll be awarded anything from Sony, although it's possible he could get something out of EA.

Avatar image for redskinStu

So he's the only runningback that's ever worn 32? It's a cash grab, pure and simple. Why not sue Microsoft, Nintendo too? Because he thinks Sony has deeper pockets? THAN MICROSOFT??

Avatar image for rtehrani

if he wins this, then cant all the ncaa players ever portrayed in an ncaa game get paid? he has no shot of winning this. they didnt use his name at all. as much as i HATE EA, this suit is ridiculous. and if he actually did win this, and all the ncaa players decided to sue also. then they wouldnt be able to make college games anymore since they cant even come close to resembeling actual players. so US, the fans of college videogames, would lose out. greed, jim brown, greed...plain and simple.

Avatar image for CaShmOn3y

i still dont think its fair having madden the only football game to buy. 2K made better games wen they had the nfl license.

Avatar image for akiwak

This guy is still alive? I guess that he has already wasted all the money he got from his NFL and Movie career, that he now needs money to satisfy his habits for prostitutes and drugs.

Avatar image for jrabbit99

This is absurd! Not to sell Madden? It's madness!

Avatar image for Hvac0120

This guy is obviously desperate for money and found his legal opportunity to get some. It would be a humorous event if he actually got them to prevent the launch of Madden 09! Can't you hear the game jocks now? Oh it would be great. Sadly for Mr. Brown, he isn't likely to get much out of this. Maybe a few hundred thousand in licensing, but I'm sure EA, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will all find a way to get around this with minimal punishment if any at all.

Avatar image for fishnpeas1

It does make me laugh that he wants to stop the sale of Madden 2001 - what are EA going to do, travel back in time?

Avatar image for jeremiah06

Why Sony??? If he was just suing EA I would've been right behind him but Singling out Sony when the SAME copy of madden is also on other platforms is wrong.

Avatar image for raverrozza

mortal_medic HAVE YOU NOT SEEN THE AUSSIE PC GAME CHARTS!??!?! all they buy is the sims! they dont know who jim brown is but i bet the sims : jim brown edition would sail right to the top!lol!

Avatar image for Lostboy1224

Whats next, the Dallas Cowboy's 4th string QB from 1968 suing for likeness rights and giving him a rating of 64 (even though he insists he was at least a 66).

Avatar image for Mortal_Medic

Except that with the current Football sim market they way it is, anything like APF2K8 isn't going to sell all that well in comparison to Madden due to the NFL giving out the exclusivity rights. That and like 5 people would buy "The Sims: Jim Brown edition"

Avatar image for FilthyYamBag

ya gotta do what 2k did with All Pro football, individual contracts brother........EA Sux

Avatar image for eryk1

What happened to M$. With out his name on or in the game, I don't think hes going to get anything.

Avatar image for Mortal_Medic

Zombie- That is fairly ignorant. Healthcare is always expensive, when have you EVER heard someone complain about healthcare being so cheap that it is a burden to have to deal with it? Never, because there are still millions of people in the US without healthcare. As for merchandise there are easy explanations for that as well. A) The NFL wants its cut. B) The team wants their cut. C) The store wants their cut. D) The players want their cut. E) The people selling the gear want their cut. F) The shipping company wants to get paid. G) Their drivers want to get paid (note cost of gas is rising). H) The company who makes the gear wants their cut. I) The people who made the gear want their cut. J) The cost of materials. K) Demand. And do you know what most lawyers have to do for years to even get paid a decent wage considering the amount of schooling required? Most end up working the public court system scene defending rapists, murderers, thieves, addicts, abusers, and general idiots. You don't go to school that long for "free money". If you want "free money" you become a bum and beg on the street, or you do some lame job at McDonalds that requires little effort for money in return.

Avatar image for JAM_Masta_Kid

@ rock_solid "hopefully this puts EA out of business" Yes, hopefully ONE small lawsuit that probably won't win will put EA out of business...

Avatar image for rock_solid

hopefully this puts EA out of business :)

Avatar image for residentzombie2

This is why our society is going to h - e - double hockey sticks in a hand basket. Lawyeres are the stem for why many things are expensive. Healthcare, merchandise, etc. could all be stemmed from the greedy lawyers that encourage greedy people to sue others for something they did not deserve. Why pays the ultimate price in the end are the consumers. That million plus dollar loss a company takes is ultimately in the end paid for by consumer resulting in higher costs. Don't get me wrong we do need attorneys just not as many as we have currently. The lawyer profession is waaaaay over populated as people see this as an easy way to make 'free' money. Lawyers are just not to blame though too, the people that hire the lawyers are just as much to blame. The world has to become more humble or things will get much much worse over time. People need to be more humble and have morales and respect for others. Brown deserves nothing from this. So who do you know purchased Madden 01 just because they had the Browns team with a number 32 player on the roster. Nobody did. If this case wins everyone can say good-bye to create a player feature in ALL sports titles not just Madden.

Avatar image for barJerubsheol


Avatar image for Yojimbo25

So why is it Sony's fault? It's EA's fault.

Avatar image for neock2003

Why Sony? EA is the company that put the team in the game!

Avatar image for lowerclassbrat7

I hope EA has to pay up.

Avatar image for GnR-SLaSh

Guess his kick ass salary couldn't last his retirement forever..