6000 retired American football players have filed a class action lawsuit against EA, concerning the alleged use of their likeness in Madden NFL 09.
The veterans claim that EA altered their names and uniforms, but based player models for the game's 140 'historic teams' on their appearance whilst still active sportsmen.
The suit is demanding damages for deprivation and violation of publicity rights, accusing EA of "blatant and prolific" infringement. "EA has purposefully chosen to use the unauthorised likenesses of retired NFL players," read the lawsuit, made to a California court and going on to allege that the publisher had earned significant revenue from the NFL series.
"The only significant detail that EA changes from the real-life retired NFL players is their jersey number. Despite EA's 'scrambling' of the retired NFL players' numbers, the games are designed so that consumers of the Madden NFL video game franchise will have no difficulty identifying who the 'historic' players are."
It claims in addition that players can very easily recreate the correct names and uniform numbers.
EA has refused comment requested by IGN, stating that it does not release statements about pending litigation.
This is not the first time that the publisher has been involved in legal complications regarding player likenesses. Last year, the NFL Players Association forked over $26 million to 2000 retired players demanding lost royalties from the use of their likeness in multiple fields – including EA's Madden NFL games.
The complete lawsuit (in PDF format) may be read here.