Garcon Tries to Catch Some of FanDuel’s Cash
Nov. 2, 2015 (Mimesis Law) — Anyone who watches sports on television has been bombarded with ads for the two major online “daily” fantasy sports gaming sites –FanDuel and DraftKings. In an interesting development, a star wide receiver for Washington’s professional football team decided he had enough of FanDuel using his likeness in their commercials, and filed a class-action lawsuit against the company in Federal Court in Maryland. The player, Pierre Garcon, had previously promoted FanDuel’s fantasy sports offerings via his social media accounts, but apparently that relationship ended before this season. And the other major player in this market, DraftKings has a sponsorship deal with the NFLPA, the player’s organization for professional footballers — a relationship that Garcon benefits from in some measure.
What appears to have gotten Garcon so upset is FanDuel’s heavy use of his name in particular during their various commercials. Whether or not their prior relationship added fuel to the fire is unclear, but for now Garcon is willing to go to court to get some compensation for FanDuel’s activities. In his Complaint, Garcon is suing on three counts: deprivation of publicity rights, Lanham Act violations, and unjust enrichment. Cases brought by public figures on similar grounds have been interesting to watch and hard to handicap. Assessing damages in particular is usually a challenge, and that challenge will be compounded by the usual difficulties that plaintiffs have in securing class certification.
This case comes on top of the bigger “scandal” involving fantasy websites, since it was revealed that employees of the respective companies were using their insider knowledge to become successful players in their competition’s games — taking advantage of the average player who would compete without the information that these employees had access to. As a rich football player in his own right, Garcon’s case may not have the same consumer appeal, especially if the general public feels he is already being paid handsomely for his play. At the same time, if Garcon is able to convince other players to join his class action, there could be more pressure on FanDuel to come up with a resolution, if only to get rid of the bad publicity prior to executing on their rumored going public plans. In the meantime, this case will continue to gather attention, aided by the high profile that FanDuel’s lavish ad spending has created for the company. Whether or not Garcon will get a piece of that pie remains to be seen.
N/A – FanDuel is private….for now
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Nothing in this material is intended to constitute legal or investment advice of any kind, nor is any of this material based on any non-public information of any kind. In addition to my work at Markman Advisors, I am also a name partner at a NYC-based intellectual property litigation boutique firm, Kroub Silbersher & Kolmykov PLLC (www.kskiplaw.com). Markman Advisors is affiliated with a Houston-based investment management firm, Perdix Capital Management, which may have existing or potential positions relating to situations discussed in this material. Markman Advisors also provides consulting services to buy-side investors, including hedge funds and family offices, that may also have or enter into positions relating to situations discussed in this material. Questions or comments can be directed to me at email@example.com. All suggestions are welcome.