EA Settles With Former NFL Player Jim Brown For $600,000

by Mike Futter on Jun 28, 2016 at 11:01 AM

EA has been involved in multiple legal battles over its use of player likenesses in sports games. Most of the conflict has been focused on the now-defunct NCAA Football series and college athletes. However, the Madden franchise ran into some trouble, too.

A number have entries have included historic teams, however you might recall that a number of player names were not in the games. Jim Brown, who played for the Cleveland Browns in 1965 (featured in Madden NFL 07), expressly declined to be included.

Contrary to his wishes, Brown’s likeness was included in the game. A lawsuit over the matter has now been settled, with EA offering a $600,000 voluntary judgment. In exchange, the case will be dismissed and Brown will release his claims.

This brings to a close a suit that has been going on since 2009. Brown’s attorneys, Hagens Berman, says that the decisions made along the way lean heavily on the EA Sports lawsuit regarding NCAA student athletes.

Robert Carey, who represented Brown for Hagens Berman, also handled the NCAA case. He also represented Madden creator Robin Antonick, who sued for unpaid royalties related to claims that elements of his original source were still in use years later. 

We've reached out to EA for comment. We'll update should we receive a response.

Update: A filing related to the settlement reveals that while EA will pay Jim Brown $600,000, both sides are responsible for their own legal fees. EA has made a non-binding recommendation that $75,000 be allocated to Brown, with the remainder to be spent on attorney fees.

While this has no bearing on what Brown will do with the money, it sends a message that EA believes Brown is only entitled to $75,000 for his trouble. The bottom line doesn't change, but the message here is that EA does not believe the inclusion itself is worth $600,000.


Our Take
This brings to a close another major EA lawsuit. I suspect that the publisher learned some hard lessons that will impact how it does business moving forward.

Notice of Acceptance of Offer to Compromise