Redskins' Pierre Garcon sues FanDuel on behalf of NFL players

ByABC News
October 30, 2015, 5:58 PM

— -- Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon is leading a class-action lawsuit for NFL players against daily fantasy site FanDuel.

Garcon is suing for misuse of players' names and likenesses, exploiting them without proper licenses or permissions. The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Maryland, notes that Garcon's name appears frequently in FanDuel commercials.

"FanDuel has taken the liberty to engage in these actions without my consent and without proper licensing rights," Garcon said in a statement. "As a result of these activities, FanDuel daily fantasy contests have shown increasing revenues leading to large profits."

Garcon claims that he and other players should be compensated by FanDuel for the use of their names, which he says has driven up revenues for the company.

The lawsuit notes that Garcon's name appears frequently in FanDuel commercials, including a 28-minute infomercial in which his name is seen 53 times. FanDuel spent more than $16 million on advertising during the first week of October, the lawsuit said.

FanDuel competitor DraftKings is not named in the suit. DraftKings has a marketing relationship with the NFL Players Association, which allows the company to put players such as Rob Gronkowski in its advertising. DraftKings does not pay the NFL or the NFLPA for the use of statistics.

Some precedent suggests that using stats alone for fantasy purposes is no different from putting players' names in a box score. In NBA v. Motorola and Stats Inc., a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in 1997 that the federal copyright statute does not allow for the ownership of data.

The FanDuel lawsuit represents the latest legal challenge for the lucrative daily fantasy industry, which has attracted scrutiny since a multimillion-dollar advertising blitz at the start of the NFL season.

"We believe this suit is without merit. There is established law that fantasy operators may use player names and statistics for fantasy contests," FanDuel spokeswoman Justine Sacco said in a statement. "FanDuel looks forward to continuing to operate our contests which sports fans everywhere have come to love."

Members of Congress have called for hearings into the daily fantasy sports industry, and FanDuel and DraftKings have attracted the attention of regulators in several states. Recent revelations that employees of the two companies often played on competing sites have raised questions about possible insider information being used to win.

The companies claim that use of their sites doesn't constitute gambling, is legal and was exempted from a federal online gambling prohibition in 2006.

FanDuel has a marketing partnership with the Redskins, who have a "FanDuel lounge" at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Unlike other U.S. sports leagues, the NFL does not have an official daily fantasy partner.

Garcon said he would not comment on the lawsuit further and referred questions to agent Brad Cicala. The NFLPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

ESPN's Darren Rovell and David Purdum and The Associated Press contributed to this report.