A group of 10 college athletes filed a class action suit against ESPN, major broadcasters, athletic conferences, WME Entertainment and IMG Worldwide, claiming that they have reaped profits from the use of the players’ names and likenesses without their permission.
The lawsuit, filed last week in federal court in Nashville, claims that the defendants have “conspired with each other and the NCAA to promulgate, enforce, adopt, implement and/or enforce rules that are inherently anticompetitive” in forbidding the athletes from “competing in the marketplace for the value of their rights of publicity.”
The athlete include players Javon Marshall, Eric Samuels and Steven Clarke from Vanderbilt University, Sean Parker of the University of Washington, Patrick Miller of Tennessee State University, Rod Wilks, Byron Moore, Chaz Moore and Marlon Walls of the University of Tennessee and Chris Conner of the University of Maryland. They claim that a release form they are forced to sign as a condition of playing football or basketball is unenforceable. They contend that the defendants have violated antitrust and trademark laws.
The defendants named include ESPN, are CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox. In addition, WME and IMG were named along with a series of other licensing agents.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.