Facenda Jr. v. NFL Films, Inc.: “Voice of God” Case Settled after Third Circuit Ruling, Octagon, pp. 107-111

Anastasios Kaburakis
Steve McKelvey

Pro football, the game for the ear and the eye … This sport is more than a spectacle, it is a game for all seasons … X’s and O’s on the blackboard are translated into imagination on the field.” This 13 seconds of digitally-altered audio, incorporated by National Football League Films, Inc. into “The Making of Madden NFL ’06,” lies at the heart of the lengthy legal saga between the estate of John Facenda and NFL Films (Facenda Jr. v. N.F.L. Films, Inc.., 542 F.3d 1007 (3rd Cir. 2008). The Third Circuit’s decision is instructive on three key fronts. First, it highlights the continued challenge facing courts to consistently apply the existing federal jurisprudence of trademark infringement to cases of false endorsement involving famous persons. Second, in a case of first impression for the Third Circuit, it establishes the applicable standard of proof in such false endorsement cases as a “likelihood of confusion,” as opposed to the much more rigorous standard of actual confusion.