Madden video game developer awarded $11 million in intellectual property lawsuit against EA Sports

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by Heygood Orr and Pearson

A federal jury has ruled that a key developer of the original John Madden Football video games is entitled to $11 million in damages from Electronic Arts. Developer Robin Antonick may also be entitled to $60 million or more in additional damages depending on the jury’s decision in the next phase of the trial.

Antonick filed an intellectual property lawsuit against EA in 2011 concerning the original John Madden Football games he helped to develop for Commodore 64, MS-DOS, and Apple II computers . The lawsuit alleged that Antonick was not paid the 1.5 percent royalty to which he was contractually entitled for any “derivative works” made from the original game.

Jurors found that the second generation Madden games—which were sold for Sega Genesis and other console systems between 1990 and 1996—qualified as derivative works under the terms of Antonick’s contract with EA Sports because of their substantial similarity to the original game. The lawsuit noted that developers at EA “had extensive access to and knowledge of Antonick’s code, design documents and other intellectual property” for the original Madden games while they were developing the second generation version for video game consoles.

A second phase of the lawsuit will determine if Antonick is entitled to damages from the third version of the Madden games sold by EA Sports between 1996 and the present day. Depending on the jury’s ruling, Antonick may be entitled to $60 million or more of the estimated $4 billion in revenue generated by the Madden franchise over the last 15-plus years.