[Editor’s note: FanDuel is an advertiser of PFT and PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. Also, NBC Sports has an equity stake in FanDuel.]
On Friday, Washington receiver Pierre Garçon sued FanDuel for misappropriation of player names and likenesses in daily fantasy. FanDuel has responded.
“We believe this suit is without merit,” FanDuel said said Friday night in a statement. “There is established law that fantasy operators may use player names and statistics for fantasy contests. FanDuel looks forward to continuing to operate our contests which sports fans everywhere have come to love.”
When it’s time to submit a more formal legal response to the complaint filed by Garçon, look for FanDuel to rely heavily on a 2006 ruling from a federal judge in St. Louis, who found that Major League Baseball and its players have no right to prevent the use of player names and statistics.
“The names and playing records of major-league baseball players as used in . . . fantasy games are not copyrightable,” Judge Mary Ann Medler wrote. “Therefore, federal copyright law does not pre-empt the players’ claimed right of publicity.”
Without seeing the lawsuit (and we’re working on getting a copy of it), it’s impossible to know whether other legal theories would apply. It’s also possible that a different federal jurisdiction would reach a different decision.
Until then, this lawsuit will be no different than every other lawsuit that ever is filed. The plaintiff believes strongly in its position, the defendant believes strongly in its position, and either a judge or a jury will resolve it — or the two sides will work out their differences through a settlement.