10 September 2018

NFL accused of using sport stars’ images without permission

The National Football League ( NFL) is being sued for using the images and likeness of three US sports stars without their permission.

Professional athlete association the World Sport Alumni ( WSA) filed the complaint at the US District Court for the Middle District of Florida on Wednesday, September 5.

The WSA promotes former and current professional athletes across all sports.

According to the complaint, the NFL and the NFL Alumni Association (which was also named as a defendant) began using the name, image or likeness of retired National Basketball Association player Nick Anderson and former professional boxer Riddick Bowe in December 2017.

The images of the sport stars were allegedly being used on marketing material to promote an upcoming celebrity Pro Bowl Party in Florida hosted by the NFL.

According to the WSA, it requested that the NFL Alumni remove the unauthorised marketing material on behalf of Bowe and Anderson. However, the marketing material was not removed and remained active until the party in January 2018.

In addition, the NFL allegedly used the name, image or likeness of former NFL player Brandon Meriweather in January 2018 to promote a tailgate event (pre-match party) in Orlando, Florida.

Once again, the WSA asked the NFL to remove the unauthorised marketing material on behalf of Meriweather. According to the WSA, the NFL failed to oblige, and the marketing material remained in circulation until the end of the event.

The complaint claimed that none of the sportsmen signed any agreements to give the NFL permission to use their names or images in any marketing material.

“Clients never received an agreement from defendants, never negotiated an agreement with defendants and/or payment for the use of their respective name, image, or likeness on any marketing material for a celebrity NFL Pro Bowl party or tailgate event,” said the WSA.

The association added that the NFL wilfully and maliciously failed to protect the sportsmen’s privacy, resulting in financial and emotional harm.

The WSA is seeking damages and injunctive relief on behalf of Anderson, Bowe and Meriweather.

The 2018 NFL season started on Thursday, September 6 with defending Super Bowl champions the Philadelphia Eagles defeating the Atlanta Falcons.

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