It appears by the quote below that Samsung most likely had the U.S. Olympic committee's permission. I acknowledge that I may be reading more into the quote but Sumsung seemingly references a procedure via the USOC. The article does include more information about the Facebook app as well.
From Bloomberg Businessweek:
Samsung has followed the U.S. Olympic Committee’s procedure to communicate with athletes, who had the opportunity express their opinions and make a decision on whether to participate, the Suwon, South Korea-based company said in a statement today.
This reference from First Post points to a California Civil Code that suggests the athletes may have legal standing despite any agreement that was signed with the USOC.
From First Post:
The athletes claim the app violates a section of the California Civil Code which makes it unlawful to use without consent another's name, voice, signature, photograph or likeness for commercial purposes.Now this gem from The Economic Times - Samsung will remove the athletes from the app but stated that they are "disappointed" by the lawsuit. I call this a gem for their measured tone and the fact that they may have been assured that everything was all right since the athletes never responded to Samsung before the app was launched
From The Economic Times:
"We have honored the requests of the athletes who have filed suit to remove their names, as we offered to do months ago, and of course we will remove any athletes that do not wish to be listed," Sandusky said in a statement Thursday.
A Samsung spokesperson said the company was "disappointed" by the lawsuit.
This is my question and it is not a rhetorical question either: Does the USOC or USA Swimming force athletes to surrender their likeness and such so it can be commoditize and licensed out to the highest bidder? If so, are these athletes forced to sign or they can't swim or receive a stipend?