Electronic Arts (“EA”) has had some legal issues lately. They’ve beaten former NFL running back Jim Brown and former Rutgers quarterback Ryan Hart in lawsuits over the use of the players’ likenesses in EA’s Madden and NCAA Football video games. They also lost a similar case against quarterback Sam Keller in the District Court of California. Appeals for the Hart and Keller cases are currently pending before the Third and Ninth Circuits respectively. Those players all claimed that they had a right to their own likeness and reputation under the Right of Publicity. But the right to one’s own likeness is one thing. Can that right extend to the likeness of one’s property and brand as well? Now, Electronic Arts is taking a preemptive strike against lawsuits making that very allegation. But if courts take the path that EA is seeking in their decisions they will be allowing First Amendment protections to go much too far.
This post was originally published on the Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal website on March 12, 2012. The original post can be accessed via the Archived Link button above.
Gutmann, Joseph, "Saved By The Bell? Why Courts Need To Draw The Line On Trademark Use In Video Games" (2012). AELJ Blog. 5.