Eric Weddle sues Alka-Seltzer (yes, Alka-Seltzer)

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During the lockout, players are looking for ways to generate revenue.  Chargers safety Eric Weddle has turned to the legal system in search of some extra walking-around money.

Agent David Canter forwarded to PFT last night a press release explaining that, on Tuesday, Weddle filed a “multi-million dollar lawsuit” against Bayer AG, Bayer USA, and Athlon sports for various claims arising from the use of Weddle’s image on boxes of Alka-Seltzer.

“Part of this national marketing campaign was to place an image of our client Eric Weddle from when he was an All-American football player at the University of Utah on Bayer’s Alka-Seltzer antacid boxes,” the statement asserts.  “These boxes appeared throughout the United States at various Wal-Mart’s, Walgreens, CVS’s, supermarkets, and local pharmacies.  Additionally, the defendants used this same image of Eric to advertise and promote Athlon Sports’ college football preview magazine.  Though this campaign never identified Eric throughout any advertisements, it was clear from the photo in question, that the image used was of Weddle, bearing the number 32 worn during his collegiate playing days at Utah.  It is the same jersey number that Eric has worn for his entire NFL playing career.

“At no time were Bayer AG, Bayer USA, nor Athlon Sports authorized to use this image for commercial purposes. Eventually Eric was left with no other recourse but to file this complaint in the Southern District of California.”

Weddle, through Canter, had sent a letter to Bayer and Athlon demanding that the items bearing Weddle’s likeness be removed from stores.  Apparently, they weren’t.

Regardless of how it all turns out, it’s another example of the ongoing tension between college athletes and NCAA sports programs.  If, as we assume, the materials displayed the Utah logo, Utah presumably was compensated.

That said, there’s a good chance that Weddle signed over to Utah the ability to use his likeness without compensation.

We’ll dig into this one some more, in large part because the only other story options at this point are lockout or draft.

25 responses to “Eric Weddle sues Alka-Seltzer (yes, Alka-Seltzer)

  1. Did they really just pull an image from a stock site and think it was okay? I have a hard time believing that. I’ve supplied images to agencies before and when an image is intended for commercial use and not for journalism/fine art you have to provide a model release with every image.

    If their own defense is that they thought he wasn’t identifiable enough, that’s not going to hold up. This seems totally justified to me.

  2. Wow, the players MUST be in dire shape.
    Make no mistake Eric Weddle, nobody bought Alka-Seltzer because your college image was on the box. They may have bought the product after watching you play though.

    I see a pattern emerging here though. The players elected an ambulance chaser to head up their union, oops, I mean association. Now the members are becoming just like DEmo, lil ambulance chasing followers.

  3. Given the evidence cited in this article, Weddle has


    case against Bayer et al. Zilch. Zero . Nadda.

    So you better stick to football, Eric, and leave the litigation to the lawyers (oh, wait…)

  4. Wow, the NCAA is one piece of work. They squeeze the blood out of the stone on some of these players. But if one of those same players get so much as a free big Mac, they get the firing squad.

  5. isn’t the ncaa or utah allowed to use their athlete’s likenesses without their consent?

    i thought that’s what the whole no pay for play thing about college was about

    i’d rule against weddle in this instance

    just based on common sense

  6. Why isn’t the University of Utah a party to this suit???

    They either weren’t part of the decision by Bayer and Athlon to use this image, in which case those companies have misappropriated the university’s intellectual property for their own commercial purposes, and Bayer should be suing them as well.

    OR, they were part of the process by which Bayer and Athlon used the image, in which case the school should be a co-defendant.

    The school can use an image of Weddle for its own purposes (and perhaps only while he’s an enrolled student), but I don’t think that includes licensing out that image to companies for commercial purposes. If they are allowed to do this, then Weddle has no case at all. So Weddle cannot argue that the school can sell the image to companies but then the companies cannot use the image. That makes no sense. So the University should be classified as a co-conspirator (if they actually sold or otherwise authorized use of the image).

  7. He’s an entertainer.

    His image is part of his brand.

    He deserves to get paid for it being used.

    That said – I’d be willing to bet he signed a release for the images to be used by the parent company ‘without limitation’ or ‘future consent’ or ‘future compensation’. He and his agent probably missed the fine print when cashing the check.

  8. jimr10 says:
    Apr 21, 2011 7:19 AM
    Who is Eric Weddle?
    ————————————————–If you don’t know who Eric Weddle is, you clearly do not know football.

  9. @polegojim He probably didn’t have an agent when he signed over the rights to use of his image to Utah. He was probably a 17/18 year old kid getting ready to go off to college and Utah said “Oh by the way, if you don’t sign this release you don’t get that scholarship.”

    And for the people bashing on Weddle… obviously the company thought that using his image would boost sales, or they would have used a different image.

    Guy should get paid for the same things anyone else gets paid for, shouldn’t lose certain rights for all of eternity because he participated in an NCAA sport.

  10. psychostats says:
    Apr 21, 2011 7:54 AM
    What, are you telling me that Speedy was redesigned based on Weddle’s likeness?


    I’m willing to bet that most guys on this site do not remember Speedy.

  11. tatum064 says: Apr 21, 2011 7:29 AM

    i thought it had to do with him needing Bayer aspirin after Darren McFadden ran him over at Qualcomm last year…
    That was awesome, talk about finishing a run, wow.

    Wasn’t that the same game where Marcel Reece hurdled him cleanly in the open field?

  12. The actual language in the contract that all student-athletes sign to be eligible to play in NCAA-sanctioned events states:

    “You authorize the NCAA [or a third party acting on behalf of the NCAA (e.g., host institution, conference, local organizing committee)] to use your name and picture in accordance with Bylaw 12.5, including to promote NCAA championships or other NCAA events, activities or programs.”

    So someone please tell me how selling Alka Seltzer is promoting an “NCAA event, activity, or program” ?

  13. He can’t win this suit because as a teenage incoming player he signed away rights to his image to Utah and the NCAA throughout the universe for all eternity. If he wants to stop the exploitation of other teenagers and perhaps have his own contract voided, he needs to attach his name to the lawsuit being filed by other former NCAA players–many of whom are now working at Wal-Mart while their schools continue to profit from merchandising images from their playing days. At least Weddle has a lucrative day job. Alka-Seltzer has nothing to do with this.

  14. Millions? C’mon. Yeah, because an almost faceless picture of a UTAH football player is really going to pump up those Alka-Seltzer sales. 99.9999% of the people who actually bought Alka-Seltzer with that picture on it probably had no idea who it was on the box until this lawsuit. Be one thing if they actually used his personal mugshot, but they stripped all logos off his uniform so the only thing even indicating it was a Utah player was the colors (and we all know they are the only football team that wears red). Plus the guy is wearing a darkened face shield for Pete’s sake.

  15. Take a look for yourself. This lawsuit is a joke. There is nothing directly indicating the picture is of Weddle or even a Utah player unless you happen to have a copy of the original photo next to it. They weren’t using Eric Weddle the person to peddle antacids, it basically a generic football player picture that he happened to be the model for.

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