Richard Garriott wins lawsuit against NCsoft (again)

Last July, spacefaring game developer Richard Garriott won $28 million in a court case against former employer (and Tabula Rasa publisher) NCSoft, claiming that he was forced to sell his stock in the company at a low point in the market following his termination. NCSoft appealed the decision, and, after more than a year of further legal struggle, an appellate decision was reached in the 5th Circuit Court: Richard's getting paper.

"It would be unjust to allow NCsoft to sit back during trial, observe Garriott's litigation strategy, and then demand a new trial on damages when it dislikes the verdict," the ruling reads. Garriott's former victory was not only upheld -- NCSoft now owes him $32 million with interest and attorney fees. With that kind of cash, he could buy back his old manor, and build, like, five new manors on top of it. Or he could just go into space again; in the long run, that's probably the better investment.
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Fish & Richardson Secures $32 Million Appellate Win
For Video Game Legend Richard Garriott

NEW ORLEANS – The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday affirmed a judgment of almost $32 million in favor of computer gaming pioneer Richard Garriott in a breach of contract case against South Korea-based NCsoft Corp.

Mr. Garriott was represented on appeal and at trial by a team of attorneys from Fish & Richardson P.C., led by Stephen E. Fox, Tommy Jacks, Kelly D. Hine, and David B. Conrad.

In Richard Garriott v. NCsoft Corp., No. 10-50939, a three-judge panel from the 5th Circuit upheld the trial court's judgment of nearly $32 million, which includes a jury award of $28 million plus interest and attorney fees.

The 5th Circuit ruling says "it would be unjust to allow NCsoft to sit back during trial, observe Garriott's litigation strategy, and then demand a new trial on damages when it dislikes the verdict."

A legend in the video game industry, Mr. Garriott was among the first to develop and market role-playing and massively multi-player online (MMO) games for the PC. NCsoft acquired Mr. Garriott's company, Destination Games, in 2001.

As part of the acquisition, Mr. Garriott received stock options valid through May 30, 2011. The options were to remain in place in the event of his termination, but would expire within 90 days if he left the company voluntarily.

Mr. Garriott took a pre-approved leave of absence from NCsoft in 2008 to travel to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. During the post-flight quarantine, NCsoft informed Mr. Garriott that his time with the company was over.

NCsoft, however, later designated Mr. Garriott's termination as voluntary, which forced him to sell his stock options more than two years early, costing him millions of dollars.

On July 29, 2010, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin found that NCsoft breached its stock option agreement with Mr. Garriott and awarded him $28 million in damages. The case was the largest labor & employment verdict in Texas in 2010.

"NCSoft schemed to avoid its obligations to Richard at the trial court and on appeal, and neither the jury nor the 5th Circuit bought any of it," says Mr. Fox, lead counsel for Mr. Garriott. "Contracts have consequences, and as the Court of Appeals explained, the trial court is not a trial run. This has been a long fight and we are very pleased with the Court's decision."

Fish & Richardson is a global law firm providing strategic counseling and litigation services to innovative clients who seek to protect and maximize the value of their intellectual property (IP). With more than 375 attorneys and technology specialists practicing IP strategy and counseling, IP litigation, and business litigation, Fish is known for its superior technical expertise. Fish has been named top patent litigation firm in the country for seven straight years, a premier IP firm for America's biggest companies, and an elite top tier law practice. For more information, visit or follow @fishrichardson on Twitter.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.