Get your Face off My Pitch

The Mighty Kahn 1: EA FIFA World Cup 2002 0

gamesindustry.biz logo A court in Hamburg has ruled that EA's FIFA World Cup 2002 title must be removed from sale in Germany because it features the name and likeness of German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn without permission.

A decision on compensation for Kahn will now follow, and may cost Electronic Arts millions of euro. FIFA World Cup 2002 sold 180,000 copies in Germany according to official figures from market research firm Media Control, which the prosecution claims represents real overall sales of up to 300,000 copies - about €15 million worth of sales, a figure which they are demanding be taken into account in deciding any compensation.

"For the first time we have an answer to the crucial question - can one represent personalities in videogames without their consent? Now the legal situation is clear," lawyer Matthias Prinz told CNN.de(translated from German).

The decision may open the floodgates for other claims by sports personalities in Germany, and it's not clear what its impact will be on future releases of EA FIFA titles in the territory. EA possesses an FIFPro license for its football titles, as well as an exclusive deal with the German Bundesleague which permits them to use character likenesses and names.

It remains to be seen whether the Kahn ruling will undermine the validity of that license, forcing EA to seek individual permission from players before using them in its games in Germany. If so, it seems likely that EA will seek to recoup damages from FIFA, and possibly from the Bundesleague.

© gamesindustry.biz