Chris Spielman Sues Ohio State Over Licensing

Former Ohio State linebacker Chris Spielman has filed a federal lawsuit against his alma mater and IMG College.

downloadFormer NFL All-Pro and Ohio State all-american linebacker Chris Spielman filed a federal lawsuit against the school and IMG College, the leading sports marketing company that negotiates on behalf of numerous colleges.

This marks the first player image, likeness and name lawsuit since former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon’s historic victory versus the NCAA went final in 2016. Spielman claims Ohio State, IMG College, and co-conspirators Honda and Nike, unlawfully conspired under federal antitrust laws to deny compensation to current and former Buckeye football players.

Spielman’s 35-page complaint contends that Honda-sponsored banners were hung at Ohio Stadium—where OSU plays its home games and which seats approximately 102,000 fans—show Spielman and 63 other notable Ohio State players, such as Eddie George and Andy Katzenmoyer. Per Spielman, these players have never agreed to appear on these banners and were not paid by OSU, Honda or anyone else for the appearances. Basically, Spielman is implying that both Ohio State and the players should be paid when those players appear on banners.

Spielman’s complaint also points to OSU’s licensing agreement with Nike. Ohio State and Nike have a contractual relationship to make “Legends of the Scarlet and gray” vintage Buckeye jerseys, which depict, without any compensation, Spielman or other former OSU stars. Spielman claims these businesses worked with the school in an unlawful plot, as they never negotiated with OSU football players, therefore setting the value of those players’ identity rights – which are clearly marketable since Honda and Nike paid for them – at $0.

Spielman, 51, is now a NFL analyst for FOX, and demands that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to end Ohio State and IMG College from continuing to use current and former OSU players’ likenesses for profit without first negotiating any rights with said players. Spielman has also requested that the court urge the defendants to pay financial damages to former players for past occurrences.

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