In a move reminiscent of the CBC v. MLB case over use of baseball players’ names and statistics in fantasy football leagues, CBS Interactive sued the NFL Players’ Association over the rights to use NFL players’ names and statistics without having to pay a license fee. As you may recall, CBC Marketing and Distribution recently won a lawsuit against Major League Baseball on what appears to be a very similar, if not identical, issue. I would love to know what arguments the NFL is making as a basis for still being able to charge licensing fees. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday, September 3, 2008, as CBS Interactive Inc. v. National Football League Players Association, case number 08-cv-05097, in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.

My gut reaction is that NFL will lose this one, regardless of being in a court that has, in the past, been very favorable to NFL players. But if there is one thing I have learned over the years, its that trying to predict the outcome of litigation has about the same success rate as trying to predict the weather. Stay tuned…

Sep. 12, 2008 UPDATE: On Sep. 9, 2008, the NFLPA fought back, filing its own suit in the Southern District of Florida, asserting that CBS forum shopped to get in Minnesota in the first place. (Recall that Minnesota is in the 8th Circuit, which gave the favorable ruling to CBC Marketing regarding similar facts for fantasy baseball). The NFL Players disagreed with the Eight Circuit’s reading of the [fantasy baseball] case, calling it “unique and erroneous.” The new case is National Football League Players Inc. v. CBS Interactive Inc., case number 1:08-cv-22504, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. We’ll keep you posted.

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