C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing Inc. v. Major League Baseball Advanced Media, L.

8th Circuit Court of Appeals 505 F.3d 818 (8th Cir. 2007) Keywords: fantasy sports, trademarks, licensing, First Amendment, breach of contract Facts C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing Inc. sells fantasy sports products that use the names, performance statistics, and biographical information of actual major league baseball players. From 1995 through the end of 2004, C.B.C. licensed its use of the names and information about major league players from the Major League Baseball Players Association pursuant to license agreements that it entered into with the association in 1995 and 2002. The 2002 agreement gave C.B.C. a license to “the names, nicknames, likenesses, signatures, pictures, playing records, and/or biographical data of each player” to be used in association with C.B.C.'s fantasy baseball products. In 2005, after the 2002 agreement expired, the Players Association gave Advanced Media the exclusive right to use baseball players' names and performance information “for exploitation via all interactive media.” The Players Association offered C.B.C. a license to promote the MLB.com fantasy baseball games on C.B.C.'s website but did not offer C.B.C. a license to continue to offer its own fantasy baseball products. C.B.C. filed suit alleging that it had “a reasonable apprehension that it will be sued by Advanced Media if it continues to operate its fantasy baseball games.” Advanced Media counterclaimed, maintaining that CBC's fantasy baseball products violated rights of publicity belonging to major league players and that Advanced Media had exclusive ownership of the players’ rights of publicity. Issue The issue is whether C.B.C. can use the names and information about major league players for its fantasy baseball products without a license. Holding The Eight Circuit held that C.B.C. violated the player’s rights of publicity under Missouri law by using player’s names as symbols for the identity for a profit. However, the court went on to find that the use of the information was entitled to First Amendment protection because it was used in an expressive form, similar to art and music. Secondly, the court held that the no-use and nochallenge provisions of contract are not enforceable because the court determined that the Players Association did not have exclusive rights to the names and statistics of all major league players. Summarized By: Matt Boyer

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