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.

274 Comments

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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KSigMTSU

I have a lot of respect for Jim Brown, and I think I understand why he might be doing this. If a retired player who was not a member of the players union and therefore is not eligible for royalty payments, as are players who are part of the union, they leave EA Sports and the players union et. al. 2 options if they win. Option 1, they have to drop all the historic players. Option 2 is my guess as to what Mr. Brown is doing here. The second option would be to allow retired players a portion of the royalties from using their likeness even though the union did not exist. Jim Brown is not a poor disabled man, but there are plenty of poor, disabled, retired NFL players that were not part of the union, and he has a history of doing things in support of them. I think people are looking at this as a possible frivolous lawsuit, and I get that, but it is likely that he's not really doing this for himself, and that he's on the side of all the retired NFL players from his era, who have no pensions, recieve no medical benefit from injuries they incurred while playing, and have generally been treated rather poorly by the players union in general. This action could force the players union and EA's hand a bit. Just wanted to give an alternative reason why he might be seeking this lawsuit. I don't think it has anything to do with attacking gamers.

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machockey

wow. someone burnt though the money they made in the past.

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Ghost_702

He's just looking at a way to get some quick riches. A ton of idiots seem to do something like this nowadays.

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milehimark

I'm sure each and every day Jim Brown paces the floor of his house with the concern that every body playing Madden will be playing as RB #32. It must keep him up at night and caused him to pay for a shrink which is why he is going broke. He is most liklely upset his speed, agility, awareness, Stiff arm and break tackle are not 200. Cause he was that much better than any one who ever played in the NFL.

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halosniper52

"Did I miss something here? Sony didn't develop the game, why they hell are they being sued by a doofas............for the umpteenth time?" ^^^^^^READ^^^^^^

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swyg

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

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condemned100

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

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halosniper52

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

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ohjtbehaaave

He's suing Cleveland too for using the name 'Browns' as the team name. Everyone knows the team was originally called the Cleveland Jim Browns. He's going to sue over every position player on the Browns. The question is... what the F' is he suing over? His number in the game? How is that damaging him? He was a member of the NFL and Cleveland Browns and all they are using are the numbers... not names and likenesses. I bet what Jim Brown is really pissed off about... is that he turned down 2K's money to be in All Pro FB 2K8 and it was probably a nice chunk of change... (more than any other player got offered most likely) and now he still somewhat ends up in Madden as a 'Legend' team player or whatever and it's really burning up his arse hairs after turning down 2K's $$$ offer.

Avatar image for bochap76
bochap76

Phoenicks is right, its a mute point that college football games do the exact same thing, because collegiate atheletes aren't able to receive endorsements or any income related to their perfomances as atheletes. Once a player receives gifts or money for their respected sport, he or she is atomatically deemed a proffessional an thus no longer eligible to play collegiate sports. As for Jim goes, he is just old and needin' the cash.

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thanos723

old stars seek revival in a world where no one cares about them, next at 11

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Saije

Just another post-career cast off trying to dust off the old ego. Once hes dead they will be able to use his likeness all they want and he wont be able to object. Hell five hundred years from now, no one will even remember he existed.

Avatar image for Paul_Phoenicks
Paul_Phoenicks

The NCAA has regulations that state that you can't appear in a video game while an eligible player. That's why you only have numbers to identify athletes and players that have gone pro on covers. If a college player sued for the use of their likeness, it would be in direct violation of rules set by the NCAA.

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Anteraan

Hey, you old racist fossil, no one cares about you anymore! Go embarrass yourself on radio some more, like your boy John Thompson. Case dismissed!

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PandaBear86

Another day, another lawsuit. Welcome to the modern gaming industry.

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sunnystarz

just change the #32 to something else and this problem should go away

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speedjunkie4

Captain Dynamic sums it up right there. Now NCAA players are gonna go nuts over how they arent potrayed, in the example of this case.

Avatar image for Gatorelk
Gatorelk

captain u got it right! they do the exact same thing for ncaa games so if this works we may never see them again. this is rediculous. you would think people would want to have themselves in one of the most popular games of all time. can you say conceited???

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kenshinhimura16

Never knew that even American Football players where fanboys too.

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Captain_Dynamic

So can every college player ever file a lawsuit against EA for college games??

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rsox07

He cant handle the fame!!!!!!!! What a wimp!!!!!

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jaysmooth

Funny how only Sony is named on the file suit and not the other console companies....

Avatar image for Paul_Phoenicks
Paul_Phoenicks

I love Jim Brown - the GOAT in TWO sports - but I don't see where he's coming from. Unless his player in Madden looks EXACTLY like him, I don't see what he can prove here. He doesn't own the number 32 - the Browns do. If the Cleveland Browns allowed an African American-looking football player wearing #32 into the game at running back, so be it. What's next: Brett Favre suing for being on the cover of '09, despite not being a Packer (currently)?

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gamecubepad

I side with Jim Brown on this one. That's too obvious what they have done stealing his likeness and putting it into a game without his consent. I always like Mr. Brown. He was a great football player and he loved MMA from the beginning. I remember him doing the color commentating on the old UFCs. He didn't try to drown the listener in random talk. He just stuck with the bare necessities. Good luck to him.

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tawagivercetti

Brown just needs to top up his coffers I think, maybe he needs cash

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FFXIII360

All EA has to do is make the guy white in the game

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sportwarrior

Normally I'd agree this is frivolous... But it's Madden and EA we're talking about, here. They don't get nearly as much heat as they deserve for monopolizing the market on football games or their lazy attitude toward improving features. This suit has nothing to do with that, obviously, but whatever. Give em hell, Jim Brown.

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theycallmeryan

I like Jim Brown but this is really stupid though.

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BigWalt211

This is completely ridiculous!!! Jim Brown is being a punk about this whole thing. He should feel honored that he is in the game. This is a classic case of someone suing to make a quick buck. Is he hurting for money or something. A better question is, why is he so concerned with Madden 01 now, it came out 8 years ago!!!

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raider4lfe

What an IDIOT!!!!!

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theycallmeryan

Are you kidding me? I hope EA pwns Brown back to the 70s.

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brainboy77777

yeah, cuz EA of all companies is going to comply with letting go the profits of it's best franchise. EA. It's frickin' EA.

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stereotype14

Too many people sue for stupid things.

Avatar image for ExonValdez
ExonValdez

He wont win. He has no case. The fact that he was number 32 and they have a player that the position marrets no infraction. Just look at NCAA Football. This would mean each and every player in any NCAA football game would have a claim of "Misusing there image"

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Jaysonguy

He's right Everyone knows that they're playing as Jim Brown, if you don't know who Jim Brown is you have no business playing this game. Either pay the man or take him out of the game, simple as that.

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TheNotoriousBYC

Call him Smokey the Bear cuz EA just got burned!

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Hokkie

He picking out Sony because he can't play his PS2 Madden games on his PS3

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baystatethrashr

who the hell is Jim Brown?? im kidding.

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mrhuntin

lot of people getting sues this year

Avatar image for cybergooch
cybergooch

Just when almost everyone who remembered Jim Brown playing professional football almost forgot, this yahoo has to speak. Being the best of the worst is SUCH a great title to hold. You think Sweetness is rolling in the grave for the "faceless" player that represented him in Tecmo Bowl? PAH-leez

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bizuit

Too bad Jim Brown is a douche.

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DaMiGi22863

Someone call 911 for a "Wahhhmbulance"..please..:P..:D

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BulletsnOctane

As much as I love and respect what Jim Brown has done for American football; this is about as low as he can go. ...I don't know what else to say, other than I'm very disappointed in him.

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OmegaGear

WTF, why is Sony singled out for having the Madden games on its consoles? That is seriouesly messed up when Madden is released on seven consoles every friggin year.

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JackBurton

[QUOTE="Cwallaceyankees"] Should the linemen from the ALL-Browns team be making money too? Can anyone name one of them? [/QUOTE] Gene Hickerson, RG, NFL Hall of Fame (CIass of 2007) Monte Clark, RT -- (later became Detroit Lions' HC) John Wooten, LG (similar name to UCLA's famous HC) That's 3 of 5 OL, w/o using a reference and I'm too young to have seen them play a down. So, where's my cookie?

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SilV3RSix

Hello, Brown?... Jim Brown?.... You're a jerk. A complete kneebiter.

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wayfast

If this was any one other than Jim I would say "this is stupid" But since it is Jim I will say... NO COMMENT