EA Loses Madden Royalties Lawsuit, Ordered To Pay $11 Mil
Electronic Arts must pay Robin Antonick millions in lost royalties from the Madden series, a California jury found today.
Antonick, one of the original developers of John Madden Football (1988), alleged that contractual agreements signed in 1986 between himself and Electronic Arts required the publisher to pay him royalties on any works derived from that game. Electronic Arts had long argued that the statute of limitations on Antonick’s claim had expired, but in June, the jury in this case ruled that argument out. At that time, the jury determined that Antonick “did not suspect any wrongdoing by EA before 2005,” and that “a reasonable person would not have known about the claims before 2005.” Antonick apparently did not become aware of the breach of contract until 2009, during a party thrown by Electronic Arts to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the franchise. He filed his lawsuit in 2011.
The jury’s decision today held that all sequels to John Madden Football released between 1990 and 1996 were essentially cloned from Antonick’s original game. With prejudgment interest required in such decisions, Atonick is entitled to receive more than $11 million. His attorneys will also pursue punitive compensation in addition to the royalties awarded today.
Today’s decision did not address Madden games released after 1996. A separate phase of the trial will consider Antonick’s claim on those titles, which have generated billions for Electronic Arts. If today’s decision is an indication of Antonick’s chances, he could pocket considerably more than the millions he won today.
In a statement, EA confirmed it will appeal, and downplayed the potential for an unfavorable verdict on Madden games released after 1996. “While we’re disappointed with the jury’s verdict and will appeal,” the statement reads” this has always been a case about games from the early 1990s, and it has no impact on today’s Madden NFL franchise”
EA’s loss in this case offers another possible explanation for EA’s stock performance today. Despite announcing healthy revenues for the first quarter of the current fiscal year earlier this afternoon, the company’s stock price declined in after-hours trading to $23.83.
The full lawsuit can be read here.