Madden Games Creator Loses Copyright Claim

The computer coder who created the original John Madden Football game for the Apple II has lost his bid to claim Electronic Arts Inc. improperly used his copyrighted work for Nintendo and Sega entertainment systems in 1990.

Although Robin Antonick won his copyright infringement claim in a jury trial, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal upheld a judge’s reversal of that verdict Tuesday.

In 1988, Electronic Arts released the Apple II Madden game, the first foodball video game and it became an instant hit. Antonick had a contract with EA to receive royalties on any derivative work for computers of his original programming. Antonick later programmed the Madden games for IBM and Commadore 64 computers.

But when he began work for EA on Madden games for Nintendo and Sega, EA told him to stop because Nintendo was becoming obsolete, the court said.  He was to work on an arcade-style version instead.

Then in 1990, EA released its Sega Madden and in 1991 it released Antonick’s last Madden game, a update for IBM.

In 2011, Antonick sued EA for unpaid royalties on the Sega Madden and Super Nintendo Madden games. A jury found that the statute of limitations did not prevent Antonick’s claims and jurors then found the later games were derivative works subject to royalties under the 1986 contr5act.

But U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer overturned the verdict holding that Antonick had not produced enough evidence of copyright infringement because the source code for Apple II and Sega were not produced as evidence.

Antonick appealed. The 9th Circuit upheld Breyer’s ruling.

Judge Andrew Hurwitz wrote the opinion joined by Judges Andrew Kleinfeld and Johnnie Rawlinson.

Case: Antonick v. Electronic Arts, No. 14-15298




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