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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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Dan Pearson