Six months after a jury decided in favor of original Madden NFL designer Robin Antonick in a copyright-infringement lawsuit against EA, Judge Charles Breyer of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has overturned this decision and granted EA’s motion for a new trial.
Antonick worked alongside Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins and the legendary football coach John Madden himself on John Madden Football for the Apple II in 1988. In 2011, Antonick filed a lawsuit against EA, claiming the publisher was in breach of their contract with him regarding Madden royalties.
In July 2013, a jury agreed with Antonick’s claims that the Madden titles released on Sega Genesis between 1990 and 1996 were “virtually identical” to the Apple II game and contained “substantial similarities” in source code.
According to Judge Breyer, however, its his opinion that the verdict was contrary to the evidence presented by Antonick’s lawyers.
“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,” Breyer stated in the case’s documents.
Mind you, this doesn’t mean that Antonick cannot win the new trial, and if anything, the full outline of Breyer’s notes explains how Antonick’s legal team needs to present the facts if they hope to prevent this from happening again or outright lose the case. This, of course, hinges on whether Antonick’s team has the evidence to present the argument necessary to win.
A date for the new trial has yet to be set.