A divided U.S. court of appeals has upheld a ruling against Electronic Arts in a lawsuit by former NCAA athletes who accused the company of using their image and likenesses for financial gain without their permission. Just the latest in EA's continuing court troubles with its Sports franchises.

In a split 2-1 decision, the court said that EA's use of ex-NCAA players in NCAA Fooball and NCAA Basketball videogames did not have protection as free expression under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Former Arizona State University quarterback Samuel Keller, among others, claimed that EA had used their identities and likenesses without permission or compensation. Electronic Arts says it plans to once again, appeal.

Judge Jay Bybee noted that in the 2005 edition of NCAA Football the virtual starting quarterback for Arizona State had "the same height, weight, facial features, hair color and style, home state, playing style, school year, skin tone, throwing arm, uniform number and visor preferences as Keller."

There were too many coincidences for the court to overlook. The NCAA has already withdrawn its contract from EA, meaning that no other NCAA games will be released under the joint names. However Elecronic Arts has made a deal with the Collegiate Licensing Company, which will enable them to continue to use university colors and logos.

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[Via Reuters]

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