Thursday, November 7, 2013

C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing, Inc. v. Major League Baseball Advanced Media, L.P. case brief

C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing, Inc. v. Major League Baseball Advanced Media, L.P. case brief summary
505 F.3d 818 (2007)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Plaintiff, a seller of fantasy baseball products, filed a suit against defendant, a baseball league's and baseball players' licensee, seeking a judicial declaration that it could use information about the players in its products. Intervenor baseball players' association joined in the suit. The licensee and the association appealed after the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri granted summary judgment to the seller.

CASE FACTS
The seller filed the suit after its license to use the players' names and information was not renewed. The licensee argued that the seller violated the players' right of publicity under Missouri law. The association asserted a counterclaim, alleging that the seller violated no-use and no-contest provisions of its expired licensing contract.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The district court held that the seller was not infringing the players' rights of publicity under state law, that U.S. Const. amend. I preempted the players' state law publicity rights, and that intellectual property law prevailed over the contract provisions underlying the association's counterclaim.

DISCUSSION
  • The court disagreed with one of the district court's holdings, but agreed with its ultimate decision. 
  • A prima facie violation of state law was shown because the seller used the players' names to establish their identities and it did so without their permission and for profit-making purposes. 
  • The players' right of publicity had to give way to the seller's First Amendment rights. 
  • The players' names and information were already in the public domain. 
  • The association could not enforce the contract because it had breached a contractual warranty.
CONCLUSION
The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the seller.

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