Oculus Rift Lawsuit: Facebook Ordered To Pay $500 Million To ZeniMax Media for Stealing VR Tech
A judge has ruled that Facebook indeed stole VR technology from ZeniMax Media for its Oculus Rift VR. Facebook’s virtual reality (VR) subsidiary Oculus and its executives have been ordered to pay $500 million in damages to game developer ZeniMax Media in a lawsuit over copyright infringement and the violation of a non-disclosure agreement by a U.S. jury in Texas on Wednesday.
The jury awarded the sum after determining that Oculus executives violated a ZeniMax non-disclosure agreement in the early days of building the Oculus Rift VR headset.
The lawsuit was filed in 2014 for a dispute between ZeniMax and Oculus, with ZeniMax alleging that John Carmack, the Chief Technology Officer at Oculus and Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey stole intellectual property to begin work on the Oculus Rift VR headset. The company also claimed that Facebook hurried through its acquisition process, not properly inspecting Oculus and its executives for possible conflicts and other warning signs.
ZeniMax had alleged that video game designer John Carmack developed core parts of the Rift’s technology while working at a ZeniMax subsidiary.
Oculus hired Carmack in 2013.
ZeniMax was seeking as much as $4 billion in the case. The case hinged on the alleged violation of a non-disclosure agreement and claims that intellectual property stolen from ZeniMax was crucial to Rift’s success. The judgment requires Oculus to pay $200 for violating a non-disclosure agreement, $50 million for copyright infringement and $50 million for the misuse of ZeniMax trademarks. Oculus co-founders Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe were also ordered to pay $50 million and $150 million, respectively, for false designation.
ZeniMax said in a statement that it was satisfied with the verdict, but they would consider to go for additional legal proceedings: “We will consider what further steps we need to take to ensure there will be no ongoing use of our misappropriated technology, including by seeking an injunction to restrain Oculus and Facebook from their ongoing use of computer code that the jury found infringed ZeniMax’s copyrights.”
On the other hand, Oculus said that it would appeal the ruling. “The heart of this case was about whether Oculus stole ZeniMax’s trade secrets, and the jury found decisively in our favor,” an Oculus spokesperson said in an email. “We’re obviously disappointed by a few other aspects of today’s verdict, but we are undeterred. Oculus products are built with Oculus technology. Our commitment to the long-term success of VR remains the same, and the entire team will continue the work they’ve done since day one – developing VR technology that will transform the way people interact and communicate. We look forward to filing our appeal and eventually putting this litigation behind us.”
Facebook purchased Oculus in 2014 for more than $2 billion. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in court that he was not aware of the intellectual property claims between Oculus and ZeniMax.