For the unlawful use of NFL Hall of Fame and legend Jim Brown’s likeness in Electronic Arts’ Madden franchise, EA has agreed to settle the case for $600,000.
Originally filed on August 30th, 2013, Jim Brown filed a publicity rights lawsuit in the superior Court of California against the video game giant for using his likeness. According to the lawsuit, EA asked the permission of Brown to feature him in the Madden franchise in 2005 and in 2007. Both times, Brown declined the offer.
The settlement comes on the heels of a Los Angeles Court denying EA’s motion to dismiss in 2015 after ruling that this does not follow under EA’s First Amendment right, and the court’s further rejection of EA’s ‘incidental’ defence, arguing that “Jim Brown is not a 1 in 7,500 player,” and, “Brown is iconic and unique. His likeness is not merely incidental to the game.”
Robert Carey, Jim Brown’s attorney from Hagens Berman, stated to Business Wire, “This recovery marks an important victory for plaintiffs in publicity-rights cases, and athletes in particular. Big business should think twice before it turns players’ hard-won identities and achievements into merchandise without permission or compensation.”
Carey, who also represented the student athletes in 2013’s Keller v. Electronic Arts, a decision which upheld the rights of NCAA student athletes challenging EA’s use of their likenesses in its NCAA football games, praised the decision saying, “We are glad that Electronic Arts finally read the writing on the wall.”
This settlement marks the third consecutive loss in court over the likeness of athletes in various sports franchises for EA.