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EA suffers setback in Madden lawsuit, jury rules statute of limitations has not expired

A US District Court jury has ruled in favor of Robin Antonick, the original designer and developer of Madden NFL Football games, allowing his royalty case against Electronic Arts to proceed.

The jury ruled that the deadline for filing a lawsuit had not already passed, as it found Antonick did not suspect "any wrongdoing by EA before 2005." It also found that a reasonable person would not have known about the claims before 2005.

Antonick filed his lawsuit against EA back in 2011, with the claim the firm withheld royalties after signing a series of publishing and development contracts.

A 1986 agreement required that EA pay him royalties on "any derivative works related to the original version of EA Madden, including current annual releases, and prohibits EA from using his confidential information."

The lawsuit claims that EA failed to pay millions of dollars in royalties owed to Antonick and to keep his work confidential as required by the contract.

The district court ruled back in April that EA would have to face fraud claims after trying to get the case dismissed.

“This is a major validation of Mr. Antonick’s testimony,” said Antonick's attorney, Rob Carey of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP. “This was by far EA’s strongest defense, and the jury’s verdict unanimously supported Mr. Antonick, which also means the jury probably thinks some significant information was concealed.

“Now the case goes to the merits, where we have irrefutable evidence. We are confident that we will be able to demonstrate that EA failed to live up to its agreement with Mr. Antonick and lied to him about the use of his protected work product in the games.”

Since it has been ruled the statute of limitations hasn't run out, the jury will determine what to award Antonick in unpaid royalties from more than "$200 million in revenues for games released between 1990 and 1996, punitive damages and disgorgement of all profits arising from the $5 billion Madden NFL franchise and related sports videogames," according to court filings.

Damages relating to 1997-2013 games will be tried in a subsequent phase of the trial.

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