Hagens Berman Reaches Preliminary Approved Settlement with EA in Likeness Case


Settlement marks first time NCAA will pay student-athletes for likenesses

Attorneys representing student-athletes who claim Electronic Arts (EA) (NASDAQ: EA) illegally used student-athletes’ likenesses in the company’s popular NCAA Football, Basketball, and March Madness videogames today filed a motion to approve a settlement that could mean thousands of dollars in settlement payments to affected players, according to Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro.

According to Steve W. Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and co-lead attorney, this is the first time in history that the NCAA’s commercial partners will reimburse student-athletes for using their likenesses.

The settlement covers claims made in the Keller and O’Bannon case against EA along with the Alston and Hart cases. Depending on the response and claims rates for the class, class members could receive up to $951 for each year they were featured in the videogame, according to the firm.

“We’re incredibly pleased with the results of this settlement and the opportunity to right a huge wrong enacted by the NCAA and EA against these players and their rights of publicity,” said Steve Berman.” “We’ve fought against intense legal hurdles since filing this case in 2009 and to see this case come to fruition is a certain victory.”

Additional comments from Steve Berman regarding the case:

Affected class members have been generally defined as NCAA football and basketball players listed on the roster of a school whose team was included in an NCAA Branded Videogame published or distributed during the period May 4, 2003 to the Preliminary Approval Date and whose assigned jersey number appears on a virtual player in the software, or whose photograph was otherwise included in the software.

EA, with the knowledge and consent of the NCAA and the Collegiate Licensing Company, used student athletes’ names, images, and likenesses in NCAA branded videogames without compensation.

The cases drew national attention because the case revolved, in part, on whether EA’s videogames and representations of the player-athletes were protected under the First Amendment.

Judge Claudia Wilken in the U.S. District Court for Northern California must grant preliminary approval of the settlement before ultimately approving the deal.

More information, including case documents is available at http://www.hbsslaw.com/cases-and-investigations/cases/ncaavideogames.


About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with offices nine cities. The firm has been named to the National Law Journal’s Plaintiffs’ Hot List seven times. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. The firm’s class-action law blog is located at www.classactionlawtoday.com.