One of the original creators of John Madden Football is suing Electronic Arts for two decades worth of unpaid royalties from both the $3 billion-selling series and other derivatives.
The lawsuit was filed at the California District Court, by Robin Antonick - who was involved in the original Apple II, Commodore 64 and MS-DOS versions of John Madden Football.
As first noted by website Gamasutra, the lawsuit claims that technologies created by Antonick were also used in subsequent versions, and spin-off titles, forming the "foundation of the Madden franchise".
Antonick claims that his 1986 contract guaranteed him 1.5 per cent of profits from any "derivative works" made for other formats. Given the success of the franchise this could translate to tens of millions of dollars today.
EA claim that subsequent console versions did not use Antonick's work, as a result of being purposefully more arcade style in approach.
The lawsuit argues that EA employee Richard Hilleman did use Antonick's original code on subsequent versions of the game, with EA founder Trip Hawkins and existing EA executive Bing Gordon also accused of having access to and reusing Antonick's work.
It's also alleged that the creation of the first Mega Drive version in just six months, by inexperienced programmer Jim Simmons, would have been impossible without access to Antonick's code.
"Electronic Arts' cavalier treatment of Antonick's intellectual property and contractual rights is symptomatic of a corporate culture that has long taken a 'so sue me' approach to the use of third party intellectual property that it does not own and generally devalues the importance of intellectual property," states the lawsuit.