O’Bannon v. NCAA Shines a Light Upon Student-Athletes’ Right of Publicity

AP Photo/Isaac Brekken

I am pleased to announce that the Connecticut Law Tribune has included an article that I wrote on NCAA v. O’Bannon in its special section on intellectual property law, which was published today.  Here is an excerpt from the article:

Sixteen years after starring in the NCAA tournament, O’Bannon is the lead plaintiff in O’Bannon v. NCAA (also referred to as In Re NCAA Student-Athletes Name & Likeness Licensing Litigation), a lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. After his professional basketball career ended, O’Bannon grew frustrated that various entities continued to profit from his and his teammates’ collegiate success at UCLA while they received nothing. O’Bannon was connected with Sonny Vaccaro, who is credited with introducing commercialism to college basketball through his marketing efforts on behalf of sneaker companies. Vaccaro, now an outspoken advocate for the rights of student-athletes, connected O’Bannon with an international law firm experienced in dealing with high-profile class action suits. A lawsuit ensued.

O’Bannon v. NCAA is brought on behalf of former NCAA student-athletes against the NCAA and its licensing arm, the Collegiate Licensing Company and video game developer Electronic Arts Inc., often referred to as EA Sports. The action survived the defendants’ Motion to Dismiss and has been consolidated with Keller v. Electronic Arts, a similar lawsuit brought by former Arizona State and Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller.

The plaintiffs in O’Bannon v. NCAA assert two central claims. First, they claim that the defendants violate the Sherman Antitrust Act. Second, the plaintiffs claim that the defendants improperly license and/or use players’ likenesses in violation of their right of publicity. This article provides a brief snapshot of the right of publicity issue, which has implications for past, present and future student-athletes, as well as the NCAA’s concept of amateurism.

Click here to read the article in its entirety

My sincere thanks to Paul Sussman, Editor-In-Chief of the Connecticut Law Tribune, for his assistance with this article.


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  1. […] more on the O’Bannon case, see my article that was published in the Connecticut Law Tribune. GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); GA_googleAddAttr("LangId", […]

  2. […] O’Bannon v. NCAA Shines a Light Upon Student-Athletes’ Right of Publicity […]

  3. […] be over, the world of sports will need lawyers into the foreseeable future with issues ranging from publicity rights of student-athletes to financing new stadiums.  I can’t imagine a better launch pad for a career in the field than […]

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