Originally filed in 2011, the suit claimed that EA breached a development contract signed by Antonick in 1986 that entitled him to royalties on derivative versions of the game. A federal judge then denied EA's motion for dismissal in April 2013. Games in the series leading up to Madden NFL 97 in 1996 were handled by external development studios such as Visual Concepts and Bethesda. Madden 97 was the first game developed by now-internal studio EA Tiburon, and also the first game created for PlayStation and Sega Saturn.
The jury determined that Antonick "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," when determining that the statute of limitations on the case did not run out. The jury will now decide what to award Antonick in unpaid royalties and profits from the games launched between 1990 and 1996.
We've reached out to both EA and Antonick's legal team for statement, and will update accordingly.
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.
About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, LLP is a national law firm with offices in 10 cities. The firm represents consumers, investors, whistleblowers, workers and others in complex litigation. Hagens Berman has been named to the National Law Journal's Plaintiffs' Hot List six times. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com.