Hamburg (pte052/29.04.2003/17:56) - German star goalie Oliver Kahn has won a lawsuit against computer games producer Electronic Arts (EA) http://www.ea.com , accusing the company of illegally capitalising on his image
A Hamburg court ruled that EA had included a figure that looked like Kahn in its "FIFA Worldcup 2002" game without the goalkeeper's approval, as reported today in Financial Times Deutschland (FTD).
Based on this ruling, the game may now no longer be distributed. While EA Germany head Jens Uwe Intat has played down the importance of the ruling, there may still be financial consequences for EA. Kahn's lawyer Matthias Prinz reportedly said the star player was considering suing for compensation in the millions.
Prinz has called the ruling groundbreaking, as Kahn is the first professional football player to file a suit against his representation in a computer game.
A total of 800 players from 40 countries are depicted in EA's FIFA series, which is one of the company's best-selling products. According to EA the older game is no longer being distributed and Kahn's virtual image has been removed from the national team in the 2003 version. He will still, however, appear as the goalie for FC Bayern Munich - a deal the EA has brokered with the German Football League (Bundesliga).
EA has reacted calmly to the threat of compensation suit, as it intends to pass the responsability on to the Federation of International Football Professionals (Fifpro) http://www.fifpro.org , from which it purchased the rights to depict the players. It appears that the association sold rights it never owned.(end)
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