EA Wins Court Hold on College Players’ Likenesses Lawsuit

Electronic Arts Inc. won a court ruling that puts on hold claims accusing the company of profiting from using likenesses of college athletes in its video games.

The ruling by a federal appeals court in San Francisco will delay the four-year-old lawsuit, which is still in the preliminary stages, from proceeding until after the U.S. Supreme Court considers the case.

The appeals court on July 31 ruled that Electronic Arts, the second-largest U.S. videogame maker, wasn’t protected by the First Amendment from former college athletes’ claims that the company violated their rights by using their images in its “NCAA Football” games without paying them or getting their permission. EA said it will seek review of that ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

If the court accepts the case, it might be months before it issues a final ruling. The ex-players are seeking compensation for use of their likenesses and might demand $100 million in damages, EA said in a Aug. 19 filing.

The lawsuit was filed in 2009 by former Arizona State University quarterback Sam Keller on behalf of other athletes whose images are used in the video games. Rob Carey, an attorney for Keller, declined to comment on the ruling.

The case is Keller v. Electronic Arts, 10-15387, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, (San Francisco).

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