If you bought a new video game in the “Madden NFL,” “NCAA Football,” or “Arena Football” series for your Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2, PS3, GameCube, Wii or PC — between Jan. 1, 2005 and June 21, 2012 — you could be entitled to some money from Electronic Arts.
A class action lawsuit against Electronic Arts filed in the U.S. Federal District Court for the Northern District of California will soon be settled, and U.S. consumers who purchased any games in these series are affected by it.
If settled, Electronic Arts would have to pay $27 million into a fund for settlement class members.
The gist of the lawsuit: EA has allegedly created a monopoly by signing exclusive licensing agreements to make games for the NFL, NCAA and Arena football leagues and their players’ unions.
The agreements do not allow anyone else in the world to make games like EA, according to the suit. Furthermore, the lawsuit claims EA, through its agreements, has been allowed to charge higher prices than it would in a competitive environment.
According to the lawsuit, customers of Electronic Arts Inc. have filed the suit alleging EA violated rights under federal and California law.
EA has denied any liability and all allegations of misconduct, according to the suit. The court has not made a decision on the claims, but customers can make a choice to be compensated now.
Here are your legal rights and options as a consumer:
STAY IN THE LAWSUIT AND SUBMIT A CLAIM
Consumers can submit a claim form by March 5, 2013.
By submitting a claim, the consumer stays in the lawsuit and awaits the outcome, according to the lawsuit.
The consumer keeps the possibility of getting money or benefits that may come from the court-approved settlement.
By submitting a claim, you cannot sue Electronic Arts separately over the same legal claims.
Failure to file a claim before March 5, 2013 means you give up your right to get any possible money from the settlement.
OBJECT TO THE LAWSUIT, BUT STAY IN THE LAWSUIT
You can submit an objection by Dec. 10, 2012.
By submitting an objection, you stay in the lawsuit and give up your right for any money that may come from a settlement.
BE EXCLUDED FROM THE LAWSUIT, GET NO BENEFITS AND KEEP YOUR RIGHTS
You can submit a claim to be excluded by Dec. 10, 2012.
By submitting an exclusion, you get out of the lawsuit and get no benefits from a settlement.
You can still sue Electronic Arts separately about the same legal claims.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs seek monetary damages and restitution.
Electronic Arts claims there is no discreet market for league-branded simulation football video games.
The plaintiffs are Geoffrey Pecover and Andrew Owens, and have sued on behalf of all consumers — except those who choose to exclude themselves from the class-action suit.
The lawsuit also states:
Additionally, the Settlement provides that Electronic Arts will not enter into an exclusive trademark license with the AFL for five years from the date of approval of the Settlement; and that Electronic Arts will not renew its current collegiate football trademark license with the CLC on an exclusive basis for five years after it expires in 2014; and that Electronic Arts will not seek any new exclusive trademark license for the purpose of making football videogames with the CLC, the NCAA, or any NCAA member institution covered by the current exclusive license for five years after the expiration of the current CLC agreement.