Best of 2011: Madden ’nuff

First posted October 4, 2011.
Here’s a guy who just may be in for some serious money!

So, what magic words can resurrect a potentially multi-million-dollar copyright lawsuit from a statute of limitations bar?  “They lied!”

Daniel Davidson explains regarding a suit against gaming giant Electronic Arts over the IP powering its famous Madden NFL franchise:

The iconic game that has caused millions of men to disregard the women in their life and convince them that they could replace the likes of Bill Belichick and Rex Ryan due to their skills, has been sued by the “original” designer.

Robin Antonick, the guy credited with creating the first version of the game has filed a lawsuit against Electronic Arts over their use of his intellectual property.  He alleges that his software, released in 1988, is still being used by the Madden NFL franchise and that he has not been compensated appropriately.

The story begins when EA split ties with Antonick and told him that they would not be using any of his intellectual property because the game was going to be transformed into more of an “arcade” game.  This was told to him in the early 90s.  Upon this representation by EA, Antonick went silent until recently when he heard the founder of EA make a reference to how they still utilize the original software.

It has probably come to your attention now that there must be some sort of statute of limitations against Antonick’s claim.  It has been almost twenty years.  This is a valid assumption.  The statute of limitations for copyright claims is three years and the clock starts when the infringement stops.  With almost two decades down, EA could have [defended on the ground] that their infringement stopped and that his time has come and gone, but then there is a little thing called “tolling.”  Tolling is a defense to statute of limitations in which the time does not start until the copyright owner has actual knowledge of the infringement.

In the present case, Antonick alleged just that.  That he was kept in the dark about any infringement.  The judge agreed and his first step toward millions of dollars in compensation has been made successful. Cheers.

That is one neat little blog post!  (“[A]nd then there is a little thing called ‘tolling.'”) And a neat little legal claim too.  What’s the line on an early settlement?

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Ron Coleman

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