July 7, 2009 / 7:51 PM / in 10 years

Yahoo, NFL settle lawsuit over fantasy league

* Yahoo said should not pay royalties for public data

* Company sought court order to stop litigation

LOS ANGELES, July 7 (Reuters) - Yahoo! Inc YHOO.O and the National Football League’s players union settled a lawsuit on Monday over whether the Web company should pay royalties for using players’ data on its fantasy league game, a Yahoo spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

“We did reach a settlement and we are going to explore other opportunities with the NFL players union to work together,” Yahoo spokeswoman Nicol Addison said.

She would not disclose the terms of the settlement.

Yahoo had sued the NFL Players Association Inc and its licensing arm, the NFL Players Inc, in June in Minnesota federal court, saying it should not have to pay royalties to use “publicly available NFL player statistics, and related information,” in fantasy football games.

In the lawsuit, Yahoo said it wanted to avert threatened litigation by the players’ unions by having a judge declare that the unions could not control the use of players’ likenesses, stats or other information in fantasy games.

The company also wanted the court to find that the unions “may not continue to extract money from Yahoo for the use of this publicly available information.”

NFL Players Inc had previously licensed the rights to players’ names and stats to a Minnesota-based fantasy football provider, and had used that same provider to “power” its own fantasy football game, the lawsuit said.

Yahoo’s last licensing agreement with the players’ union expired on March 1, 2009, and it notified the NFLPA that it would not be renewing the contract in light of a court finding that another fantasy football league provider did not need licenses.

Representatives from the players’ union were not immediately available to comment.

Yahoo is a top U.S. provider of fantasy sports services, offering a fantasy leagues in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, golf and auto racing, court filings showed.

In a fantasy league, participants simulate management responsibilities of an professional sports team roster by pretending to scout, draft and trade players on their “teams” and to manipulate the roster during the course of the season. Team performance is based on player performance and statistics.

Reporting by Gina Keating, editing by Matt Daily

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