Madden NFL trial begins

Original designer Robin Antonick claims EA used his code and never paid him; EA denies this and says," lawsuit is too late."

Proceedings in the court case between Electronic Arts and original Madden designer Robin Antonick began this week in San Francisco, with Bloomberg providing a report from inside the courtroom.

A lawyer for Antonick told a jury this week that EA continued to use his code to create later versions of Madden, but never paid him for his work.

"Electronic Arts told him one thing and did another," Antonick's lawyer Robert Carey said in opening arguments.

For its part, EA denies using Antonick's code, saying later Madden NFL games were built outside of the foundation Antonick originally created.

EA "never used anything of Robin Antonick's in any later games," company lawyer Susan Harriman said. "Mr. Antonick's lawsuit is too late."

The opening arguments came as part of the first phase of the case, which will determine if the statute of limitations passed and if Antonick is in fact owed any money for Madden games sold before 1996.

Antonick is seeking compensatory damages of around $16 million and nearly $200 million from EA's pre-1996 game profits.

If the court agrees that the statute of limitations has not expired, then damages for games sold after 1996 will be considered in a second phase of the proceedings. According to Antonick's legal team, he is seeking a 7 percent royalty rate for all games sold and a repayment of profit EA made on the franchise.

This could reach into the "hundreds of millions of dollars" range, according to the report.

More than 99 million Madden NFL games have been sold to date, generating billions in revenue. Antonick originally sued EA in April 2011.

The next entry in the series is Madden NFL 25, a special version of the game launching in August to mark the franchise's 25th anniversary.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

22 comments
chris091471
chris091471

Madden NFL and The Sims is the only 2 games keeping EA alive.

buffaloblitz85
buffaloblitz85

Didn't read the article. I can only assume EA is getting sued for producing the same game year after year and labeling it as a 'new' game.  :)

jrabbit99
jrabbit99

I don't believe EA. Why are they giving two excuses? Either they didn't use the code so they have nothing to worry about, or the time for a lawsuit has passed.

soulless4now
soulless4now

Just one thing after another with this company. -sigh-

da_chub
da_chub

I can't stand ea anymore, but I have to side with them. If they employed this guy to design a game for them, isn't his work technically the property of ea? So when he gets done, madden should have stopped. This is just a sad lawsuit by a unemployed developer who can't find work since the best thing he has done was over 15 years ago.

blueboxdoctor
blueboxdoctor

And here I thought it would be an article about a demo or something.  Didn't even know this whole thing was going on.

no_pants_4_u
no_pants_4_u

My only hope, every year, is that EA loses the rights to the NFL license so that other companies can make football games. I'm SO sick of EA phoning in the new Madden year after year with zero innovation, meanwhile other companies (like 2K) sit on the sidelines with ideas that would DESTROY Madden. *sigh* 

Yuusha09
Yuusha09

If they were using your code, you should've checked into that in 96'.  You know, 17 years ago.

SmallSatsuma
SmallSatsuma

"EA continued to use his code to create later versions of Madden, but never paid him for his work."


Could that be why Madden has hardly changed over the years?

Dirk_McHardpeck
Dirk_McHardpeck

If they're so adamant that they didn't use his code then why are they hiding behind the statute of limitations law? Why not just prove that they didn't use his code? Sounds like guilt to me.

migmiggul
migmiggul

oh statutes of limitations how corporations love you

cireking213
cireking213

"Behind every great fortune lies a great crime."

fanirama
fanirama

This looks like scumbag vs scumbag. Not sure I support either party here. 

Gimme a break with suing now.

Anxiety21
Anxiety21

In 2011 or possibly before he found out about the code use.  Plus any programmer uses or installs his unique code either for nerd purposes or for tracing purposes to see who is using their code.  Plus EA saying it's too late makes them sound guilty already!!

blackace
blackace

He'll have to prove the code used is his. I guess they could get it off the older Madden games before 1996. Wondering why he didn't sue them sooner. EA is notorious for doing crap like this anyways. If they can get away with it, they will.

dlCHIEF58
dlCHIEF58

@no_pants_4_u 

At least they lose the NCAA and Arena Football exclusivity in 2014 and cannot renew them exclusively for at least 5 years after the anti-trust lawsuit settlement. Unfortunately they get to keep the NFL exclusive license if extended beyond this year when it expires. 

Kiaininja
Kiaininja

@Yuusha09 But how would he know without having direct access to inspect the coding? It's not like if a company is just going to let an ex-employee skim through the code of every Madden game they are making like if it was nothing, it's risking your other codes to be stolen.

migmiggul
migmiggul

@Dirk_McHardpeck to answer your question briefly and cynically...its because its going to cost them a lot less money to avoid liability on a statute of limitations defense (as it would be absolute or in legal speak "affirmative"), rather than going through all of the motions of actually proving that they created their own code. Hope this helps