California Jury Allows Madden Developer to Play On in Case Against EA
It took less than a week to return a verdict in favor of former Electronics Arts Inc. (EA) videogame developer Robin Antonick. On Friday, June 21, 2013, a California jury ruled that Antonick was not too late to bring a breach of contract claim against EA for royalties that he alleges are owed to him from a 1986 agreement with the video gaming company.
Antonick is the original designer and developer of the Madden NFL Football games. A 1986 agreement required 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 suit was filed in 2011 and claims that EA owes Antonick millions in royalties.
However, Antonick first had to prove his claim was not barred by the statute of limitations. Antonick claimed he didn’t realize EA used his code until 2009. If he had known before 2005, the deadline for filing his fraud and breach-of-contract lawsuit would have expired.
The jury ruled that the 2005 deadline for filing the lawsuit had not passed. Antonick proved to a jury that he didn’t discover EA did not independently develop later versions of the Madden software until the 20th Anniversary of the Madden game in 2009.
Antonick’s attorney said “[T]his 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.” Not surprisingly, EA is asking the California court to overturn the jury verdict
If the verdict stands, the trial will kick off July 1, 2013, where damages relating to 1997-2013 game revenue will be tried.