Former Student Athletes’ Right of Publicity and Antitrust Claims Will Proceed Against the NCAA and Electronic Arts

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP

Closely watched class action lawsuits by former student athletes against the National Collegiate Athletic Association “NCAA”), its licensing arm, the Collegiate Licensing company (“CLC”), and the popular video game maker, Electronic Arts, Inc. (“EA”) will proceed following May 2, 2011 decision by Judge Claudia Wilken of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. See In re NCAA Student-Athlete Name & Likeness Licensing Litigation, Case No. 4:09-cv-01967- CW (N.D. Cal. May 2, 2001) (the “May 2 Order”).

In the consolidated class actions, former college student athletes seek compensation based on right of publicity and the antitrust laws for licensing revenues generated from the NCAA’s licensing deals (through CLC) with EA, which produces the popular NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball and NCAA March Madness video games. Former Arizona State and Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller and former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon filed the initial lawsuits. Additional former student athletes have since joined as plaintiffs, and the cases have been consolidated under the case name In re NCAA Student-Athlete Name & Likeness Licensing Litigation.

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