Madden creator sues EA for royalties

Original programmer demands millions for creating "foundation of the Madden franchise"

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.

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Latest comments (4)

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game6 years ago
Has he only just noticed 25 years later? I appreciate the cogs of litigation take a while to get turning, but 25 years? And surely it can't be argued that any of his code is in madden 2010, only that it may have been used in some of the 16 bit itterations.
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Armando Marini Product Development, Big Viking Games6 years ago
Andrew, you would be shocked at how much technology is carried forward from iteration to iteration. When time (and money) is of the essence, old functioning code is better than new unproven code.
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Stephen McCarthy Studying Games Technology, Kingston University6 years ago
true, could be that now is a good time to cash in as well.
there got to be a lot of cash in there if he wins.
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Phil Weeks CTO/Owner, Wreck Center Games LLC6 years ago
I worked at park place, who employed jim simmons during the Sega days of when Madden became famous. There was more code from Monday Night Football done by park place, then by some random c-64 programmer. Additionally, we did a madden "rip off" after ea cajoled simmons to leave pp, and had the display running in a weekend. So 6 months time to get the game up and running was nothing in those days. Additionally after leaving PP for Sony, we had gameday up and running in short order, without any "starter" code. If you know how to code sports games (especially back in the genesis/ps1 days) you could be up and running very quick.
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