A federal appeals court judge has overturned an $11 million jury award made in favor of Robin Antonick, a key developer on the original, 1988 PC version of John Madden Football. The court has ordered a new trial to determine whether EA owes Antonick royalties for decades of sequels based on his original design. (Antonick’s original contract said that he would earn royalties on any “derivative works” of his titles that were made after he left the company.)
Last July, Antonick and his lawyers convinced a jury that the 2D console versions of Madden NFL released between 1990 and 1996 were “derivative works” of the original game he made for the Commodore 64, Apple II, and PCs running MS-DOS. But this week, Judge Charles Breyer of the US District Court for the Northern District of California overturned that verdict, saying that “even construing the evidence in the light most favorable to Antonick, there is no legally sufficient basis for the jury’s verdict that any of the Sega Madden games as a whole are virtually identical to Apple II Madden as a whole.”
In reviewing the case, Judge Breyer determined that Antonick did not meet the legal threshold of proving that the Genesis versions of Madden were “virtually identical” to the Apple II version he helped design. While the original trial included many examples of similarities between the versions, Judge Breyer ruled that “the record contains no evidence from which a reasonable juror could conclude that Apple II Madden and any of the seven Sega Madden games are virtually identical when compared as a whole” and that EA was entitled to a new trial in the matter.
via Ars Technica http://ift.tt/1jKgcOI