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Issue Date: Vol. 51, No. 10, October 2011, Posted On: 10/11/2011

High Court Punts On Legal Fees In Videogame Case

Marcus Webb
Supreme Court decision on video games, video game violence, Brown vs. Entertainment Merchants Association, Electronic Software Association, First Amendment rights, arcade video game, coin-op video game

WASHINGTON -- When you win a case before the Supreme Court, most often you celebrate the victory and go home. But last July, the Electronic Software Association and the Electronic Marketing Association asked the U.S. high court to put the icing on the cake of their landmark 2011 victory by making the losers pay the industry's legal bills.

The two associations, which represent the consumer videogame industry, requested that the state of California pay $1.14 million in legal bills incurred in the landmark Brown vs. EMA case.

The high court found in favor of the videogame industry on June 27, ruling that videogames deserve first amendment protection and that California -- and by extension other states -- cannot ban youths' access to these products based on "violent" content. | SEE STORY

On Oct. 4, the Supreme Court said it would not decide the issue of EMA and ESA's legal fees. Instead, the court referred the question back to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Although suing for legal fees is unusual at the Supreme Court level, ESA has successfully litigated and won its costs after winning cases at the state level -- including Louisiana, Michigan and Illinois. ESA and EMA previously recovered $276,000 plus interest in district court and $94,000 in the Ninth Circuit Court.

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