CBS Interactive Inc. has filed suit against the NFLPA over fantasy licensing, the first major legal ripple to follow this spring's refusal by the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal from MLBAM and the MLBPA in the CDM Fantasy Sports case. CBS alleges in the 12-page complaint, filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, that the NFLPA is wrongly pressuring the media giant to pay licensing fees to operate fantasy football games this season despite CDM's repeated legal victories over the past three years. "Despite the clarity of the law on this issue, and despite its arguments having been fully considered in the recent litigation, the Players Association continues to make objectively baseless demands for licensing fees from CBS Interactive and others in the fantasy football industry," the filing reads. Earlier in the complaint, CBS Interactive also claims the union has "gone so far as to say that if CBS Interactive takes any action to challenge its rights to licensing fees, it will never again grant CBSSports.com rights necessary to operate fantasy games and will therefore put CBSSports.com out of the fantasy football business," a stance the media giant says represents prohibited antitrust activity under the Sherman Act. CBSSports.com paid the union a total of $1.49M in the fiscal year ended February 29, 2008, up from $1M in the prior fiscal year, according to annual reports filed by the union to the U.S. Labor Department. No money is believed to have changed hands between the two sides in the current fiscal year for fantasy licensing as a result of the CDM case.
By Eric Fisher, Staff Writer, SportsBusiness Journal