Electronic Arts Inc. (EA:US) must pay more than $11 million to a former programmer who wrote code for the earliest versions of the company’s “Madden NFL” video game, according to the plaintiff’s lawyer.
A federal court jury in San Francisco today found that the company broke a 1986 contract by failing to pay Robin Antonick royalties on works derived from his code, Rob Carey, a lawyer for Antonick, said in an e-mailed statement.
Carey said the verdict is a “good omen” for another phase of the litigation to determine whether EA must pay Antonick for games published from 1997 to now, and for which revenue exceeds $3 billion. The verdict, not the damages, was confirmed by a court filing.
A jury found June 21 that Antonick proved he didn’t know before 2005 that EA allegedly used his work on later Madden games. That allowed the trial to proceed to a second phase over breach of contract and damage claims (EA:US).
EA has sold more than 85 million copies of the software, resulting in revenue of more than $4 billion. The company, the second-largest video game publisher, has denied using Antonick’s code and has said other company programmers developed later Madden NFL games independent of Antonick’s work.
“‘While we’re disappointed with the jury’s verdict and will appeal, this has always been a case about games from the early 1990s, and it has no impact on today’s Madden NFL franchise,’’ John Reseburg, an spokesman for Redwood City, California-based EA, said in an e-mail.
The case is Antonick v. Electronic Arts Inc., 11-01543, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).
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