Ex-EA Madden Programmer Wins Verdict on Timing of Lawsuit

A former Electronic Arts Inc. programmer who wrote code for the earliest versions of the company’s “Madden NFL” video game proved he didn’t know before 2005 that EA allegedly used his work on later Madden games, a jury found.

The verdict in the first phase of a trial in federal court in San Francisco will allow the jury to consider whether EA used ex-programmer Robin Antonick’s source code without his knowledge or consent and owes him millions of dollars in royalties, said Stuart Paynter, his attorney.

Antonick is seeking compensatory damages of about $16 million and almost $200 million from EA’s pre-1996 game profits, said Paynter. Damages for post-1996 games could be hundreds of millions of dollars, he said.

“We are grateful that the jury saw though EA’s misleading arguments and we look forward to recovering the maximum amount the law allows for Mr. Antonick,” Paynter said in an e-mail.

EA has sold more than 85 million copies of the software, resulting in revenue of more than $4 billion.

“While we’re disappointed that the trial will proceed, we are confident that we will prevail on the merits once the evidence is presented,” John Reseburg, an EA spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Later Versions

EA attorney Susan Harriman told jurors June 17 that the company didn’t use Antonick’s code to develop later versions of Madden, and that Antonick waited too long to file a lawsuit.

Antonick claimed he didn’t realize until 2009 that EA used his code. If he had known before 2005, the statute of limitations, or deadline for filing his fraud and breach-of-contract lawsuit, would have expired.

The trial will resume July 1. Antonick is the chief executive officer of MicroDonors Inc., a Boston company, and is the former chief Web officer of the Christian Science Monitor newspaper, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The case is Antonick v. Electronic Arts Inc., 11-cv-01543, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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