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EA asks for motion to dismiss NCAA antitrust lawsuit

Electronic Arts filed a request for a motion yesterday to dismiss the latest complaint in the antitrust lawsuit filed by current and former collegiate athletes against the publisher, the NCAA and the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC), saying EA shouldn't be a part of the suit.

The plaintiffs in the antitrust lawsuit — a group of student athletes led by Ed O'Bannon, a former star at the University of California, Los Angeles — filed a third complaint in federal court in California on July 18, amending their previous complaint to include six current NCAA athletes. EA, the NCAA and the CLC are named as defendants in the lawsuit, which also consists of a separate suit concerning student athletes' right to publicity that is led by former Arizona State University and University of Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller. The court is set to rule by early September as to whether the plaintiffs' case is a certified class-action suit.

In granting the plaintiffs the ability to file the amended complaint earlier this month, the presiding judge forbade the defendants from attempting to file further motions for dismissal, and instead suggested they hold arguments for future summary judgment motions. But EA is asking for the opportunity to file a motion to dismiss the third amended complaint on the grounds that the company is entitled to test the "legal sufficiency" of that complaint — a test that, according to EA, the complaint fails.

The plaintiffs' complaint, said EA, "pleads no facts to support their theory that Electronic Arts Inc. participated in an antitrust conspiracy with the NCAA and Collegiate Licensing Company." As EA sees it, the complaint charges that EA followed the NCAA's rules and lobbied for additional rights within those rules — actions that, EA believes, don't qualify as violations of federal antitrust law.

"EA does not belong in this antitrust action"

"All [the complaint] alleges is that EA agreed to follow the NCAA's rules regarding using student athletes' names and likenesses," said EA. "That is not a viable antitrust claim. EA does not belong in this antitrust action that centers on the NCAA's adoption and enforcement of its rules."

In essence, EA is attempting to extract itself from the lawsuit by shifting the blame to the NCAA, one of its fellow defendants. The company's recent motion requests a decision on the legal sufficiency of the plaintiffs' complaint before the class-action certification ruling. You can see EA's request for a motion here, and the proposed motion for dismissal itself here.

Earlier this month, the NCAA decided not to continue its participation in EA's NCAA Football series of video games, citing "the current business climate and costs of litigation." That led EA to sign a new licensing agreement with the CLC, ensuring that its college football franchise will continue without the NCAA name or logo starting in 2014.

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