A jury yesterday, found that Electronic Arts used code and features developed by a designer of the first John Madden Football game throughout the Madden series, published in the 1990s, without crediting or paying him royalties. The court has required EA to pay damages that could start at $11 Million but could potentially reach much higher.
Robin Antonick, credited on the cover of the original 1988 PC game alongside John Madden, sued EA in federal court in 2011, alleging the company recycled code and design he laid down in the first game for future releases. Particularly in question were the 16-bit console version that exploded the series’ popularity.
“This is a tremendous victory,” Rob Carey, one of Antonick's attorneys said in a statement; "In many ways, this trial was a test of each party’s version of events. The jury uniformly rejected the idea that this game was developed without Robin’s work. It is, if nothing, a good omen for the next phase of the litigation.”
The $11 million figure was supplied by Antonick’s attorney for the amount of royalties he was out for games released from 1990 to 1996. Antonick claims many of his features are still in use today and a future phase of the trial will be held to determine whether the work indeed appears in versions published after the game’s 16-bit era. Antonick’s attorneys say EA’s revenues on Madden games published in that span exceed $3 billion.
"While we’re disappointed with the jury’s verdict and will appeal, this has always been a case about games from the early 1990s, and it has no impact on today’s Madden NFL franchise,” Electronic Arts said in a statement following the verdict.