The Interactive arm of CBS has filed suit against the NFL Players Association, seeking to keep the group from collecting licensing fees from fantasy football hosts.

The suit, filed in federal court in Minneapolis, pursues a judgment that the NFLPA cannot “extract money from CBS Interactive for the use of publicly available football statistics” under federal antitrust guidelines, according to’s reading of the file.

“It’s encouraging to see CBS take this step,” says Jeff Thomas, president of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association and founder and CEO of World Sports Technology Inc., which owns this site.

The motion comes just three months after the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by Major League Baseball Advanced Media in a similar case resolved in favor of fantasy provider CBC, former parent company of CDM Sports.

“As an association, the FSTA worked hard and dedicated significant budget to support the CDM lawsuit,” Thomas says. “Now that the Supreme Court has supported the fact that licensing fees do not have to be paid, the largest fantasy companies are in a position to save seven figures annually. This is a great example of a leading-edge company showing confidence in the court decision and asking others to stop ignoring it.”

(Rick Wolf of Rotoworld/NBC Universal and chairman of the Fantasy Sports Association chose not to comment on the case, citing the NFLPA’s membership in the FSA.)

This latest suit has the potential to alter the apparent calm delivered by the MLBAM case or settle the notion once and for all that stats and player names exist in the public domain. Action between the NFL and fantasy providers has been expected even in light of the decision in the baseball case.

CBS’ move to sue the players association before the group might challenge fantasy hosts in court could be viewed as an attempt to keep any actions on the subject in more favorable judicial circumstances than if the league or NFLPA determined the jurisdiction. The Eighth Circuit, where the CBS suit has been filed, is the same federal district in which courts found in favor of CBC and one that is home to many fantasy sports businesses.

CBS already pays licensing fees to the NFLPA for things such player photos that display on the site, but the body is also still trying to collect for stats and use of names, which were ruled to exist in the public domain in the MLBAM case.

A ruling in favor of CBS here could clarify the rules on what information is freely available for all fantasy providers.

Visit often for updates on the suit’s impact on fantasy sports and reaction from those within the industry.


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