Programmer Wins Verdict Over Madden Football Royalties

EAsportsFormer Electronic Arts Inc. programmer won a federal jury verdict Tuesday that the company breached its contract to pay him for use of his code from the earliest versions of the popular Madden Football video games.

Robin Antonick claimed the video game maker broke a 1986 contract by failing to pay royalties on later copies of games derived from his original code.

The jury found that his work on Sega’s popular Madden Football video games between 1992 and 1996 were virtually identical to Apple II Madden games and that he proved the source code for plays and formations in the Sega and Apple II versions of 1992 to 1996 had substantial similarities.

The jury rejected a claim that the source code for the “field width” was substantially similar in those games.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer refused to let the jury consider an additional fraud claim by Antonick, which would have opened EA to punitive damages.

And on June 21, the jury found that Antonick proved he didn’t know before 2005 that EA allegedly used his coding work for the later versions of Madden Football.  If he had known his case would have been thrown out for missing a statute of limitations deadline.

Antonick has asked for $16 million in compensatory damages and nearly $200 million from EA’s pre-1996 game profits.

The games brought in more than $4 billion for EA and sold 85 million copies.

Case:  Antonick v. electronic Arts, Inc., No. 11-cv-1543CRB.