EA Sports hasn’t had the greatest past couple of weeks. First, NCAA told them they weren’t going to renew their licensing agreement with the video game company, meaning EA could no longer use the NCAA logo or name in their games. (To be honest that isn’t a big deal and will probably work out for the better in the long run.)
Now, the company has also lost $11 million (and possibly A LOT more) in a lawsuit surrounding one of their most popular franchises, the Madden NFL series.
A jury today found that Electronic Arts used code and features developed by the designer of the first John Madden Football throughout Madden games published into the mid-1990s without crediting or paying him royalties, and required EA to pay damages that could start at $11 million and potentially reach much higher.
Robin Antonick, credited on the cover of the original 1988 PC game alongside John Madden, sued EA in federal court in 2011,alleging it recycled the code, design and other features he laid down in the first game for future editions, particularly the 16-bit console versions that exploded the series’ popularity.
While Antonick’s suit continues to allege that his work has been used into present-day versions of Madden, the jury’s decision today just encompasses games published between 1990 and 1996—essentially its lifespan on the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis.
A future trial will be held to decide if Antonick’s work appears in Madden games past 1996, and if a jury rules in his favor there he will likely receive millions more in repayment.
Pretty big blow for EA.