Antonick v. Electronic Arts, Inc.
United States District Court for the District of Northern California
Case No: 3:11-cv-01543
On Friday, June 21, 2013, a one-week trial culminated in a jury finding that Robin Antonick (the programmer for the original "Madden NFL" game released in the late 1980s) was not barred from suing for millions in royalties by the statute of limitations.
Back in 1988, Antonick was responsible for programming the first iteration of Electronic Arts Madden NFL series for the Apple II. Antonick alleges that EA owes him royalties stemming from their Madden NFL game released on the Sega Genesis. The jury, specifically, found that Antonick did not become aware of EA's alleged breach until 2009 at EA's 20th anniversary celebration of the franchise. Whereas Antonick's version of the game took four years to make, multiple EA employees involved with the franchise reminisced how the Sega version only took six months to make, even though none of the lead developers had ever created a videogame before. Antonick alleges that he then began to realize that there was no way the game could have been developed in that amount of time without relying on the source code he wrote. Leonard Aragon, Antonick's attorney, goes on to allege that the Sega version of the game used a football field 80 yards wide, whereas a typical field is 53 yards wide. This is significant because, in Antonick's original game, the field was 80 yards wide, and there is, "no reason to have it that size unless you take it from the previous game; [because] if you put [Antonick's] plays on a 53-yard field half the team would be off the field." Electronic Arts alleges that Antonick could have discovered this information back in 2004 when the publisher was celebrating the franchise's 15th anniversary.
Trial is scheduled to being on July 1, 2013, to determine if, and to what extent, EA owes royalties to Antonick. The verdict could be substantial. Under the original contract, EA agreed to pay Antonick royalties on any works that are either derivative of the original 1988 game or any other works stemming from those derivative works.
We will continue to update as more information becomes available.