An end to Madden monopoly madness? EA asks federal court to dismiss lawsuit

Back in June, we told you about two gamers who filed a class-action lawsuit against EA, alleging that the corporation’s exclusivity agreement with the National Football League was a monopoly. Their main argument centered around the issue of price: EA was charging the then-standard price of $49.99 for Madden NFL 2005 until Take-Two released ESPN NFL 2K5, which was set at the bargain-of-a-lifetime price of $19.99. EA later lowered the price of Madden 2005, but once the NFL offered up exclusive videogame rights, EA made sure they were the highest bidder, permanently taking Take-Two out of the football picture.

It didn’t appear at the time that the suit had much of a chance in court, since the way the exclusivity agreement came about hardly seemed unlawful. EA definitely agrees; according to GamePolitics, they filed a motion in federal court yesterday to have the suit thrown out on these grounds:

It is not illegal—under any theory—for EA to bid on exclusive licenses that intellectual property owners choose to offer. Exclusive intellectual property licenses are commonplace, and widely accepted in commerce and under the law as one legitimate way for an intellectual property rights holder to maximize the value of its property. Highly analogous case law holds that a sports league—in particular, the NFL—has the right to enter into exclusive rights agreements, and potential licensees have a right to bid on such licenses.

GamePolitics thinks the timing of this motion isn’t coincidental, since an EA/Take-Two merger, should one occur, was okayed by the Federal Trade Commission last week. If EA buying out Take-Two isn’t considered a monopoly, then you’d think the lawsuit has even less of a legal leg to stand on, wouldn’t you? Yet again, all I can muster is this: Bully for capitalism, eh?

[Via GamePolitics — thanks, Joe!]

Samit Sarkar