Yahoo! Gets Tackled By Brady

    December 7, 2006

New England Patriots Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady sues Yahoo! over the use of his image.

Yahoo! has had a pretty rough week, and it does not seem to be getting any better. The search engine company had a round of highly publicized in-house corporate cleaning earlier in the week, suffered plummeting stock prices, and are being sued by an NFL icon; they just cannot seem to catch a break.

New England Patriots quarterback and NFL posterboy Tom Brady filed a federal complaint against Yahoo!. The suit alleges that the site used unauthorized images of Brady in a September 2006 Sports Illustrated ad, as well as in banner ads on the Yahoo! Sports page.

Yahoo! advertisements that featured Brady were used to promote the site’s fantasy football league, which is a $4 billion industry. Representatives of the three-time Super Bowl winner took note that Yahoo!’s is the largest site, with 4.4 million users last year.

In the suit filed in U.S. District Court, Brady and associates state they believe that Yahoo! intended to use the image of the football star unlawfully, and are legally required to compensate the athlete as he normally would be for endorsement deals.

That amount of money will be quite considerable, as Brady signed a 10-year contract with the Patriots for $60 million; $26.5 million in bonuses during its first year alone. Brady’s marketability even extends into jewelry; he signed an endorsement deal with the Movado watch company.

Representatives of football’s golden boy are not taking the unlawful use of his likeness lightly, as Brady’s reach extends out of the realm of sports. He was invited by the president to the 2004 State of the Union Address, had an audience with the pope, and even hosted “Saturday Night Live.”

Memo to Yahoo!: if you are going to use the image or likeness of one of the most recognizable faces in America today, make sure to get his consent.

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Autmn Davis is a staff writer for WebProNews covering ebusiness and technology.