Electronic Arts Settling Madden Football Antitrust Lawsuit

Madden NFL 11 Packers Aaron Rodgers 2011

Electronic Arts has reached an agreement in principle to settle a legal dispute with consumers who alleged that the video game publisher's exclusive deals with the NFL, the NCAA and others were anticompetitive. On Tuesday, attorneys for EA and a class of plaintiffs filed a joint motion to delay filing deadlines in the case so as to allow the parties to formalize a definitive settlement agreement.

The lawsuit was brought in 2008 and, according to an amended complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that EA's licensing activity had driven out competition from Take Two Interactive Software, the maker of NFL 2K5, and that as the result of alleged anticompetitive behavior, the price of Madden NFL had soared 70 percent from $29.99 to $49.99.

In 2010, a judge certified a class of plaintiffs, including former star athletes Ed O'Bannon and Sam Keller (both currently involved in another lawsuit over the rights to their image.)

Details of the settlement haven't been released, but on Monday, in an SEC filing, EA disclosed that it had set aside $27 million "related to a potential settlement of an ongoing litigation matter."

No official word has come on whether the settlement fund relates to this case or the other major lawsuits that EA is facing, including one from the original creator of the Madden football game.

EA has previously denied the allegations brought in this class action, arguing in court papers that "an intellectual property owner has the unqualified right to license unilaterally its intellectual property to a single non-competitor licensee, or no licensee at all."

E-mail: eriq.gardner@thr.com

Twitter: @eriqgardner