SBJ/May 8 - 14, 2006/This Weeks News

Lawsuit over fantasy stats set for trial

The ongoing legal battle between St. Louis-based CDM Fantasy Sports and MLB Advanced Media is now set for trial in early September.

Judge Mary Ann Medler of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of Missouri is targeting a trial beginning Sept. 5 and lasting at least a week, setting the stage for a showdown that will significantly influence the future of the fast-growing fantasy sports industry.

CDM sued MLBAM 15 months ago after the company failed to obtain a fantasy sports license from baseball’s interactive division. CDM is trying to assert the use of raw MLB player names and statistics as part of the public domain. MLBAM argues that the commercial use of such data without a license violates its rights.

An attempt at mediation last fall quickly and not unexpectedly failed.

“The legal issues are now well formed,” said Rudy Telscher, a St. Louis intellectual property attorney with Harness, Dickey & Pierce, representing CDM. “We’ve basically finished discovery, and it’s more or less just waiting to be tried.”

There is a possibility Medler could issue a summary judgment on the case and eliminate the need for a trial, but such a move is considered unlikely.

MLBAM executives declined comment. The company has been joined in the lawsuit by the MLB Players Association, which last year struck a five-year, $50 million deal with MLBAM for its members’ interactive rights.

The case is considered a turning point to come for the industry. An MLBAM victory would likely mean an end to most fantasy sports operators not licensed by one of the major sports leagues.

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