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Judge Cuts Calif. Publicity Claim From Madden Suit


A California federal judge on Friday trimmed a state law claim from a suit filed by former NFL players against Electronic Arts over the use of their likenesses in Madden video games, finding that the avatars were not readily identifiable as the players. Keker, Van Nest & Peters represents Electronic Arts in the suit.

U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg issued an order granting summary judgment in favor of the gamemaker on the players’ claim under California Civil Code Section 3344. Judge Seeborg said that claims under the statute require a visual depiction that is readily identifiable as the plaintiff, but that the players are instead arguing that the images, when combined with other information including the avatar’s team, position and age, reveal who they are supposed to represent.

“In short, plaintiffs have made no attempt to show (because they believe they need not do so) that any of the avatars in the Madden games could be ‘readily identified’ as corresponding to any specific plaintiff based on the appearance of the avatar alone,” the order said. “Rather, plaintiffs insist that the avatars are identifiable through additional contextual information.”

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