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Fraud claim dismissed in lawsuit for unpaid Madden NFL royalties

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

The fraud claim in a former Madden NFL programmer's lawsuit against Electronic Arts was dismissed last week, although the case will still go to trial as a breach-of-contract suit, reports Bloomberg.

Judge Charles Breyer of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that the plaintiff, Robin Antonick, failed to demonstrate adequate grounds for a fraud claim. Breyer added that Antonick has an "only thin" claim to copyright protection on his work in the case, known as Antonick v. Electronic Arts.

In a statement released to Bloomberg, Antonick's lawyer said he and his client were unhappy with the dismissal, but "are pleased that Judge Breyer has cleared the way for Mr. Antonick to recover millions in royalties that he is owed." A representative for EA declined comment to Bloomberg.

Antonick, a designer on the original John Madden Football in 1988, filed suit against EA in April 2011, charging that the publisher owed him millions of dollars in unpaid royalties from sales of subsequent iterations of the franchise that still used his code. According to Antonick, the last royalty check EA sent him came in 1995, and he didn't discover until 2009 that later Madden titles used his work.

A judge ruled in June that the statute of limitations for Antonick to file a lawsuit did not expire, which allowed the case to move forward. EA had repeatedly attempted to have the case dismissed, but Breyer ruled this past April that it would go to trial.

We reached out to EA for more details, and a representative told Polygon that the company has no comment.

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