The jury hearing the lawsuit between Electronic Arts and original Madden programmer and designer Robin Antonick delivered a stinging verdict this evening. After just three days of deliberations, a jury in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California ruled in favor of Robin Antonick, awarding him what should be (with interest) more than $11 million, according to his legal team. The ruling also opens the door for Antonick to pursue the same claims against EA for games released after 1996.
The jury was charged with determining if Antonick's claims were true. He alleged in his lawsuit that he had signed a series of publishing and development contracts with the company, culminating in a 1986 agreement that required EA to pay him royalties on any derivative works related to the original version of EA Madden, and prohibited EA from using his confidential information. The lawsuit claimed that EA breached those agreements and failed to pay millions of dollars in royalties owed to Antonick.
The jury came to the conclusion that EA’s Madden NFL games published between 1990-1996 were "virtually identical" to the original version of Madden NFL Football developed by Antonick. They also concluded that they 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."
Lawyers for Antonick say that 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, with revenues exceeding approximately $3 billion. They will also seek to appeal a previous ruling that excluded Super Nintendo games and fraud claims from the jury deliberations.
Antonick is represented by Leonard Aragon of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, and Hagens Berman co-counseled with the Paynter Law Firm.
More details on the lawsuit can be found here. We assume that EA will, at some point, appeal this decision to a higher court.
We will continue to follow this story as it develops.