Sunday, December 26, 2010

Suing the Wrong Defendant, Or, Shooting the Messenger

This lawsuit is incredibly stupid.  In essence, the litigation charges that EA Sports is engaged in unfair practices because they have an exclusive license to make the Madden NFL series since 2006.   The suit going forward will potentially allow millions of people to demand their money back if it is successful.  The judge who allowed this to move to the next stage is grossly wrong, and here is why.

It isn't EA's fault that they have an exclusive license for third party gaming.  If the people who are suing had any inkling of intelligence and were actually motivated by justice rather than avarice, the target of their lawsuit would be none other than the National Football League.  It is the NFL that grants the exclusivity to the game developers.  As my brother (who sent me this link from astutely pointed out, nothing stops a console maker from developing their own games, with an NFL license; this should be another part of EA's defense.

The other part that bothers me about all this is the complaint about price gouging:
"We believe EA forced consumers to pay an artificial premium on Madden NFL video games," [Hagens] Berman [The one filing the suit -- J.L.] continued. "We intend to prove that EA could inflate prices on their sports titles because these exclusive licenses restrained trade and competition for interactive sports software."
Let's be clear: no one is forced to buy the latest edition of Madden NFL.  I'm not a lawyer, but common sense leads me to say that a video game isn't a basic need or a basic communications means (i.e. telephone landlines). To compare this implicitly to previous monopolistic practices is a patent act of dishonesty.  Why?  Because it is not EA's fault they have the exclusive license.

The solution is to sue the one who actually grants the exclusive license.  It won't happen, though, because I think they know they would lose...and lose big if they tried to take on the NFL.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, I am checking this blog using the phone and this appears to be kind of odd. Thought you'd wish to know. This is a great write-up nevertheless, did not mess that up.

- David