Stuart Paynter, formerly of silk-stockinged litigation legend Sullivan & Cromwell, has filed suit against the NCAA and EA Sports in the Northern District of California (where EA is headquartered) over the possibly illegal use of collegiate football players’ likenesses in football video games (notably, NCAA Football 2009).
Paynter left Sullivan & Cromwell and soon thereafter helped Cooper & Kirk settle a trade secrets issue for $20 million; he served as co-counsel to the firm in that case, and now runs a solo practice in Washington, D.C.
Paynter alleges shocking similarities between collegiate athletes and their manifestations in EA video games, none of which go so far as to use their actual names. Jersey numbers, hometowns, schools… even hairstyles are all almost dead-on, though. Paynter is set to litigate the matter with Leonard Aragon, a former Stanford Law classmate. The lead plaintiff is former Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller, a collegiate standout but NFL no-go. Paynter hopes to eventually form a class action around the matter and represent any NCAA athlete whose likeness was used in an EA video game without his consent or knowledge.