EA to settle NFL lawsuit? [Updated]
UPDATE: This post had initially conjectured that the lawsuit Electronic Arts Inc. had set aside $27 million for a potential settlement was one involving former National Football League players who sued the company for allegedly using their likenesses in its Madden NFL video games without their permission. Among the plaintiffs of that lawsuit are Vince Ferragamo, former quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams (pictured above). That lawsuit is not part of the settlement, the Times has learned.
Electronic Arts Inc. on Monday disclosed that it had set aside $27 million for a "potential settlement of an ongoing" lawsuit.
EA declined to identify the suit, stating that it had no final settlement to announce.
The most likely case involves a class-action lawsuit filed in 2008 alleging that EA had stifled its competitors when it signed licensing deals with the NFL and the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. for the exclusive rights to use the likenesses of the groups' football players.
The case filed in federal court by Geoffrey Pecover and Jeffrey Lawrence, two consumers who purchased EA's Madden NFL games, accused EA of freezing out other game companies from making a viable football game when it won the exclusive right to use NFL and NCAA players in its games. They argued that EA violated antitrust regulatons by raising the price of Madden games by 72% in 2005, the year after it signed the exclusive licenses. The case was granted class-action status in December 2010.
The Redwood City, Calif., game publisher denied the allegations in a statement filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern California, saying it did nothing to violate antitrust laws by pursuing exclusive licenses with the football organizations.
-- Alex Pham
Photo: Vince Ferragamo, No. 15, former quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams, gets ready to throw during the 1980 Super Bowl game. Credit: Associated Press and Los Angeles Times.