John Madden Football video game creator, Robin Antonick, says he will appeal the court judgement that denied him $11 million in the Electronic Arts (EA) case.
The original lawsuit was filed by Antonick against EA in 2011. The lawsuit alleged that EA used technologies developed by Antonick for the original Madden, which was released in 1988 and 1989 for the Commodore 64, MS-DOS and Apple II, for developing subsequent versions of the title for a variety of different platforms.
Antonick was given credit and was paid royalties for the first edition of the game. However, EA made a new programming team in 1990 and claimed that it started from scratch in developing the game without any help from Antonick's source code.
In July 2013, a federal court jury agreed with Antonick's claims that Madden games between 1990 and 1996 were very similar to play and may have been based on Antonick's original source code. The jury in U.S. District Court ruled in favor of Antonick and awarded him $11 million as damages.
However, a new ruling by the U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of San Francisco has overturned the original jury ruling from 2013 that will spare EA from paying over $11 million in damages to Antonick.
On Wednesday, January 22, Breyer ruled that the jurors had no basis for the conclusion as they were never shown the games side by side to make their own evaluation as the law requires for a verdict of copyright infringement.
Breyer said that jurors heard from Antonick's expert witness, who said the games used the same plays and formations. The witness also said that the games included the same system of player ratings. Even though the later versions of the game added new features, they still used the original 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," said Breyer.
The judge also added that there was "no evidence from which a reasonable juror could conclude that (the games) are virtually identical when compared as a whole."
Antonick's lawyers say that they will appeal the ruling and claim they have evidence, which shows that EA used Antonick's source code without permission. On the other hand, EA lawyers say that they are "thrilled to see the claims resolved in favor of EA."