EA loses in Madden lawsuit verdict; Case goes to merits.

by: Sean Cahill -
To say it has been a rough year for video game giant Electronic Arts is putting it mildly.

The company has had to deal with layoffs inside the company and two large lawsuits.  We have been following the O'Bannon vs. NCAA case that EA Sports is involved with here at Gaming Nexus, but another case that is just as important has been a royalties case involving Robin Antonick, the original developer of Madden NFL Football.  

A jury ruled on Friday in favor of Antonick in that the statute of limitation had not run out to file a lawsuit against EA Sports for breach of contract in the signed agreements between EA and Antonick.  Because of this, it is very possible that royalties are owed to Antonick from the games released between 1990-1996, which is a yet to be determined number that Antonick is seeking.  On top of all of this, a second phase of the case will determine whether more royalties are owed between 1997-2013.

The trial is still ongoing, but with the jury finding in favor of Antonick over the statute of limitation, it is expected now that Antonick has a strong case against EA and that the jury could eventually award unpaid royalties to the original developer.

EA Loses in Madden Lawsuit Verdict – Jury Rules Statute of Limitations Has Not Run

 

June 21, 2013

 

San Francisco, Calif., - A jury in U.S. District Court today ruled in favor of Robin Antonick, the original designer and developer of Electronic Arts’ (NASDAQ: EA) best-selling Madden NFL Football games.

 

The case alleges that EA and Antonick signed a series of publishing and development contracts, culminating in a 1986 agreement that requires EA to pay him royalties on any derivative works related to the original version of EA Madden, including current annual releases, and prohibits EA from using his confidential information.  The lawsuit claims that EA failed to pay millions of dollars in royalties owed to Antonick and to keep his work confidential as required by the contract.

 

They jury will determine what to award Antonick in allegedly unpaid royalties from more than $200 million in revenues for games released between 1990 and 1996,  punitive damages and disgorgement of all profits arising from the $5 billion Madden NFL franchise and related sports videogames, according to court filings.  Damages relating to 1997-2013 games will be tried in a subsequent phase of the trial.

 

In today’s ruling the jury tackled the statute of limitations, specifically whether the deadline for filing a lawsuit had already passed. It found in Antonick’s favor, ruling that he did not suspect any wrongdoing by EA before 2005. It also found that a reasonable person would not have known about the claims before 2005.

 

“This is a major validation of Mr. Antonick’s testimony,” said Rob Carey, Antonick’s attorney. “This was by far EA’s strongest defense, and the jury’s verdict unanimously supported Mr. Antonick, which also means the jury probably thinks some significant information was concealed.”

 

“Now the case goes to the merits, where we have irrefutable evidence,” he continued. “We are confident that we will be able to demonstrate that EA failed to live up to its agreement with Mr. Antonick and lied to him about the use of his protected work product in the games.”

 

Antonick is also represented by Leonard Aragon of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP and Stuart Paynter of the Paynter Law Firm.

 

More information, including the full text of the lawsuit, is available at http://hb-ip.com/our-work/MaddenNFL.

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