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EA requests Madden Football legal claim be dismissed

Coder of original title pursuing twenty years of royalties

EA has asked a California court to dismiss the case of Robin Antonick, a coder who helped create the original John Madden Football whilst working as a contractor 20 years ago, be dismissed, arguing that the terms of Antonick's own claim render it invalid.

Antonick believes that he is due twenty years' worth of royalties because the coding work he did for the first game - including systems for player AI, a '3D' projection of the playing field, replays and the camera system - formed the basis of the successful series' sequels ever since.

On Tuesday, EA submitted that the Californian Federal Court dismiss the claims as invalid. EA disputes the claim of code legacy, saying that the game was built from the ground up from the second iteration and has provided Antonick with the source code of that game as proof.

Besides that, Antonick's claim itself describes the four key areas of code as "methods, processes and algorithms", all concepts which are not covered by US copyright law, which can only protect a specific expression of an idea.

"The Complaint itself describes all four elements as 'methods,' 'processes' and 'algorithms," reads a statement from EA. "Since copyright protects only expression, not ideas, methods of operation, or algorithms of a computer program, the Complaint's own allegations defeat the contract claim.

"Antonick's contract with EA provides for royalty payments only for derivative works under copyright law, not simply for any work that traces some idea back to, or shares a name with, the versions Antonick worked on."

The onus remains on Antonick to prove that his work, and the various versions of those ideas which followed in subsequent versions of the game, constitute original expression rather than merely the 'methods,' 'processes' and 'algorithms' which his case refers to them as.

In April, EA founder and Digital Chocolate CEO Trip Hawkins entered the debate in an unofficial capacity, saying that Antonick was merely a member of a larger team who created the game, and has no specific claims on the genesis of the series.

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Latest comments (8)

Tony Lawson Studying games software development, University of Sunderland5 years ago
well this is an eye opener. if your contracted to do some work make sure you protect yourself from the start or 'the man' will be milking your work for 20 years.
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Mark Lo Business Manager, Air-Edel5 years ago
If I'm contracted to help build a house, I don't expect the owners to pay ME rent.
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Valery Carpentier Director/Consultant, Polyfonique5 years ago
He got royalties payments as a contractor? Lucky him!
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Show all comments (8)
James Prendergast Research Chemist 5 years ago
I have to say that if you're on a contract you shouldn't have any claim or hold over the work afterwards... That's the whole point of the contracting system. Sort of like house bands or whatever. They're paid for one performance - not to be able to own and recoup monies from the subsequent sales of that performance.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game5 years ago
Whether the second iteration was built from the ground up or not, which the courts will determine, the fact he is claiming for 20 years, as if his work for an Apple 2 game is still used in the current games, or even in the PS one versions is a really questionable claim.
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LOL
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Bradley Pearce5 years ago
while his work may have been very influential to the series and made a success out of the games he worked on, I think that he's just being selfish as he simply is finding ways of money grabbing. Considering the sales madden gets it doesn't surprise me. If he was a contractor anyway, it would've said all the work he did was going to be owned by EA.

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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game5 years ago
Bradley it seems as if he has a contract giving royaltees for the use of his code. Remember that this was in the 80s before EA was the corporation it was now, when it was based on a "developers are the rockstar" ethos. If he didn't have that he wouldn't even have a lawyer take the case I shouldn't think. What is in dispute is whether that code was used in part for future games.
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