Former NFL player Tony Davis is seeking class action status for a lawsuit representing 6,000 retired football players who claim gaming giant Electronic Arts (EA) used their likenesses without permission and was, as a result, "unjustly enriched."
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Northern California, focuses on EA's Madden NFL 09 game, which features more than 140 "historic teams" in addition to current league teams. Though the nameless player avatars on these "historic" teams do not share the jersey numbers of their alleged real life counterparts, the plaintiffs claim that the connections are obvious to the game's consumers.
The plaintiffs cited similarities, including players' height, weight, position and skill level, which they contend were intended to ensure consumers could easily identify the game's "historic" players. They describe the EA's use of retired players' likenesses as "commercial exploitation" that is "both blatant and prolific."
The plaintiffs are asking the court to award them all profits from the use of the retired players' likenesses in addition to actual, statutory and punitive damages.