The Japanese Supreme Court has ruled against players in its major league who were seeking to own the licensing rights for video games and baseball cards.
At issue was whether professional players or their teams own the licensing rights to use the players’ names and images. The ruling continues a trend of courts siding with teams.
Earlier rulings in Japan focused on clauses in the standard contracts between players and teams which indicate that players would not object to use of their images for promotional purposes.
Attorneys for the players argued that using their names and likenesses in commercial products was separate from the promotional contracts.
In 2006, the Tokyo District Court ruled commercial uses enhance the players’ name recognition, which falls under the purpose of advertisement.
That decision was upheld in February 2008 by the Intellectual Property High Court, Japan’s court of second instance in copyright and other intellectual property issues.