EA granted new trial in Madden creator suit

A US District Court has granted Electronic Arts has the right to a new trial in the case it lost against Robin Antonick, the original creator of the Madden series. An opinion filed by Judge Charles Breyer stated that the jury did not have the proper evidence to determine whether later Madden games--most importantly the Sega Genesis version--reused source code from Antonick's original Apple II version.

The jury had originally awarded an estimated $11 million to Antonick, and lawyers were going to spend the next year combing source code to determine royalties. Breyer determined that the source code should have been compared for the original ruling, rather than simple visual comparisons.

"Antonick’s expert, Michael Barr, used flawed methods to support his opinion that EA copied Antonick’s protectable expression." Breyer wrote in his opinion (via Gamasutra). "Specifically, Barr (1) used reversed-engineered binary data to produce and compare visual representation of the plays in Apple II Madden and Sega Madden, rather than comparing the source code itself, and (2) relied on similarities in unprotectable elements to suggest copying of protectable expression."

EA lead attorney Susan Harriman told Gamasutra the company is "thrilled" with the result, and reiterated its position that Antonick has already been paid for his work. "As EA has maintained from day one, Antonick was fully compensated for his work on the Apple II game. Because Antonick had no involvement in the Sega Madden games, he had no entitlement to further royalties."