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Antonick v. Electronic Arts, Inc.

The panel affirmed the district court’s judgment as a matter of law in favor of Electronic Arts, Inc., in a diversity action seeking unpaid royalties pursuant to a contract, arising from alleged copyright infringement.

Plaintiff Robin Antonick developed the computer code for the original John Madden Football game for the Apple II computer, which was released by Electronic Arts. Electronic Arts subsequently released Madden games for Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo for which plaintiff received no royalties under a 1986 contract.

Concerning plaintiff’s Sega claims, the panel held that the plaintiff did not provide sufficient evidence of copyright infringement because neither the source code used for Apple II Madden nor Sega Madden was in evidence. The panel also rejected plaintiff’s argument that Electronic Arts’s postverdict Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(b) motion for judgment as a matter of law regarding the intrinsic test for copyright infringement should not have been considered.

Concerning plaintiff’s Super Nintendo claims, the panel held that the district court did not err in dismissing plaintiff’s derivative work claims because the Apple II and Super Nintendo processors were not in the same microprocessor family, as defined by the parties’ contract. The panel also affirmed the district court’s conclusion that the jury could not have determined plaintiff’s damages from the alleged breach of contract to a reasonable certainty. The panel further held that, even if the district court erred, there was no harm, because plaintiff’s failure to introduce any source code precluded a finding that Super Nintendo Madden was a derivative work.

Finally, the panel held that plaintiff offered no evidence of purported damages arising from plaintiff’s claim that Electronic Arts used development aids to create nonderivative works without seeking a negotiated license.

Download Antonick v. Electronic Arts, Inc.

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