A federal judge has ruled that the jury in the John Madden Football case had no basis for concluding that later games in the series were based on the source code of the original.
Robin Antonick came away with a big win against Electronic Arts last summer, earning a judgment of more than $11 million in a long-running lawsuit over the Madden Football franchise. Antonick, one of the programmers on the original 1988 release, claimed that succeeding editions of the game continued to use his source code even though he hadn’t been paid royalties since 1992. The jury agreed, awarding him $4 million in damages and interest of more than $7 million.
U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer did not agree, however, and ruled on Wednesday that the jurors had no basis for reaching the conclusion they did because they relied on Antonick’s expert witness but were never shown the games side-by-side as required by law. “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,” he said.
Because of that, there was “no evidence from which a reasonable juror could conclude that [the games] are virtually identical when compared as a whole,” and thus the case was dismissed.
“We are thrilled to see the claims resolved in favor of EA. It was the right result,” Electronic Arts’ lead attorney Susan Harriman said in a statement. “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.”
Antonick’s attorneys said he will appeal the ruling.