EA loses a $11 million lawsuit to one its original programmers
Once again EA is back in court facing a Breach of Contract case, and after more than two years of legal maneuvering Electronic Arts, a California federal judge has put a end to EA’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit brought by former employee Robin Antonick who worked as a designer and developer for the Madden franchise, according to the lawsuit Antonick is seeking millions for unpaid royalties, punitive damages and disgorgement of all profits arising form the $5 billion Madden NFL franchise.
Antonick,according to his lawsuit conceived and developed the first version of John Madden Football for the Commodore 64, MS-Dos and Apple ll platforms The game was the first to accurately simulate 11×11 football, among other advances, and was described as “miraculous” by EA.
To get into more details of the case EA and Antonick signed a series of publishing and development contract, culminating in a 1986 agreement that requires EA to pay him royalties on any derivative works related to the original version of Madden, including current annual releases. The lawsuit also claims that EA has failed to pay millions of dollars in royalties owed to Antonick and failed to keep his work confidential as required by the contract.
The Jury found that several of EA’s games, publined between 1990-1996, were identical to the original version developed by Antonick, the game used similar plays and formations. With mandatory prejudgment interest, the verdict should entitle Antonick to more than $11 million.
“This is a tremendous victory,” said Rob Carey, partner at Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP and one of Antonick’s attorneys. “In many ways, this trial was a test of each party’s version of events. The jury uniformly rejected the idea that this game was developed without Robin’s work. It is, if nothing, a good omen for the next phase of the litigation.”
“We have very compelling evidence indicating that EA used Mr. Antonick’s ground-breaking code and design elements as the basis for both past and present Madden NFL titles,” said Robert Carey, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP partner and one of Antonick’s attorneys. “Yet, EA has failed to compensate him as required by his agreement or give him proper credit for his work. We look forward to proving our case at trial, and we are very confident that we will prevail.”
A future phase of the trial will be held to determine whether EA is responsible for paying Antonick for games published between 1997 and the present, where revenues exceed $3 billion.
Antonick and his attorneys still plan to seek additional compensation during this stage of the litigation from the judge, who reserved for himself to decide claims for disgorgement of EA’s profits. They will also seek to appeal previous rulings that excluded Super Nintendo games and fraud claims from the jury deliberations.
The case will proceed to trial, which is scheduled to begin on June 17, 2013. Antonick will be represented by Leonard Aragon of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP and Stuart Paynter of the Law Firm.
Again this is a case Ea was bound to lose, in the past they were allegations of them over working there employees, in fact EA had to pay a $14.9 million dollar settlement to their programmers that have worked there between February 14, 2001 and February 14, 2006 in a case similar to Antonick. Its not good when a company as big as EA is still having legal issues whether it be past or present be so similar. EA has a lot going on right now and it looks as if past wrong doings are catching up to them.
Hopefully EA can stop bleeding because in this boxing ring called the Legal System they don’t stand a chance.