In July last year, a US District Court jury ruled in favor of Robin Antonick in his lawsuit against Electronic Arts claiming that the company failed to pay Antonick millions in royalties on derivative works of the original EA Madden game he designed. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, a federal judge has now overturned the ruling, meaning EA is no longer required to pay Antonick $11 million in damages.
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer ruled this week that the jurors last July “had no basis for that conclusion”. Breyer says that the law requires jurors be shown the games side by side for a verdict regarding copyright infringement. Instead, the jurors only heard from Antonick’s expert witness who claimed the games were “essentially the same” and based on Antonick’s programming.
“Without the opportunity to view each of the versions (of the later games), the jury had no basis for evaluating whether the changes (the expert) addressed altered each subsequent game,” Breyer said. As such, Breyer said there was “no evidence from which a reasonable juror could conclude that (the games) are virtually identical when compared as a whole.”
Antonick’s attorney Robert Carey said that they plan to appeal this ruling. “The evidence showed they used his source code without permission,” he said.
EA’s legal team have issued a statement to Gamespot, stating they are “thrilled” by the result.
“We are thrilled to see the claims resolved in favor of EA. It was the right result. As Judge Breyer held, there is no evidence that any of the Sega Madden games are virtually identical to the Apple II game that Robin Antonick programmed. The evidence also proved that EA’s source code was not substantially similar to Antonick’s source code. As EA has maintained from day one, Antonick was fully compensated for his work on the Apple II game. Because Antonick had no involvement in the Sega Madden games, he had no entitlement to further royalties.”