A jury ruled that a statute of limitations does not apply to the claim of Robin Antonick, credited on the cover of the first John Madden Football for PCs back in 1988. This would have been the easiest way for Electronic Arts to be rid of a lawsuit it has called, from day one, "utterly without merit."
Instead, they now go further into trial on Antonick's claims that subsequent editions of Madden were based on his original work, without properly paying him royalties. Madden, as you could probably guess, has sold billlions of dollars worth of product over its lifespan, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. If Antonick prevails, he could make a fortune.
Antonick filed his suit in 2009. He said he had not been aware, before 2005, that EA Sports continued to use work he claimed was part of the original Madden's development. If he had been, the case would have been tossed.
Antonick's suit must now be tried in two phases: one for games pre-dating 1996, the other for games after that. The pre-1996 trial will begin on July 1, and it alone could be worth more than $200 million in damages to Antonick. The trial on games made after 1996 would include not only Madden but products using the same engine, such as NCAA Football.
“While we’re disappointed that the trial will proceed, we are confident that we will prevail on the merits once the evidence is presented,” an Electronic Arts spokesman told Bloomberg News in an email.