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Breaking: EA being sued over NFL exclusivity deal – consumers vs. EA Sports

Well, now. Most of us have joked about suing EA sports, but this is altogether a new development. In 2008, a group of disgruntled consumers decided to sue EA for unfair labor practices. That lawsuit has finally been approved and it’s heading to court soon. The basis of the lawsuit is found here:

  • “Through an unlawful and anticompetitive series of exclusive agreements with the National Football League, the NFL Players Union, Arena Football League and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”), Electronic Arts has driven its competition out of the market for interactive football software, including most significantly Take Two Interactive Software, Inc., the maker of the interactive football software title NFL 2K5 and has prevented additional competitors from entering the market.”

You can read the full details here, but this is a very interesting turn of events. While ultimately non-threatening to EA’s livelihood as a manufacturer, it does raise questions about how the public views the company.

For clarity, here is a simple breakdown of the who is affected by this lawsuit:

  • Customers of Electronic Arts Inc. have filed a class action lawsuit alleging that Electronic Arts violated their rights under federal and California law.
  • The Court has allowed the lawsuit to be a class action on behalf of all persons in the United States who purchased a new copy of an Electronic Arts’ Madden NFL, NCAA Football, or Arena Football video game for Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, GameCube, PC, or Wii, with a release date of January 1, 2005 to June 21, 2012.
  • Electronic Arts has denied any liability and all allegations of misconduct.

Ultimately, the lawsuit hopes to supposedly produce one result: “Additionally, the Settlement provides that Electronic Arts will not enter into an exclusive trademark license with the AFL for five years from the date of approval of the Settlement; and that Electronic Arts will not renew its current collegiate football trademark license with the CLC on an exclusive basis for five years after it expires in 2014; and that Electronic Arts will not seek any new exclusive trademark license for the purpose of making football video games with the CLC, the NCAA, or any NCAA member institution covered by the current exclusive license for five years after the expiration of the current CLC agreement.”

You read that correctly – no exclusivity. EA has been known for it’s ability to navigate deals with particular sporting agencies, but this deal – even if the payout is relatively minor – excludes them from continuing that deal beyond it’s current parameters.

More information as we get it.