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Jury awards ZeniMax $500 million in Oculus lawsuit

Posted on Thursday, February 02 2017 @ 17:04:25 CET by

Game publisher ZeniMax Media scored a big victory against Facebook-owned Oculus as a Texas jury awarded the game publisher $500 million in its VR IP lawsuit. As we wrote almost three years ago, the legal battle started in 2014 when ZeniMax, the parent company of id Software, accused John Carmack of stealing trade secrets for Oculus.

ZeniMax claims core components of the Oculus Rift VR headset were developed by John Carmack, when he was still working at id Software. Carmack joined Oculus in 2013 as Chief Technology Officer and one year later Facebook bought the VR firm for $2 billion.

The Tech Report covers the decision in more detail and writes that the jury was not convinced that John Carmack misappropriated trade secrets when he joined Oculus.

The breakdown of the verdict is that Oculus will have to pay $200 million for co-founder Luckey Palmer's violation of a non-disclosure agreement with ZeniMax and another $50 million for copyright infringement. Palmer is also on the hook for $50 million for false designation, while other co-founder Brendan Iribe has to pay $150 million. This is because the jury found that Oculus passed off ZeniMax technology as its own.

While $500 million is a hefty sum, it's a lot less than ZeniMax's initial $6 billion claim. Oculus said it plans to appeal the decision so the legal battle is not over yet. ZeniMax is pleased by the ruling but may seek to halt sales of the Oculus Rift headset:
ZeniMax said in a statment that it's pleased with the result, and added that "the jury upheld our complaint regarding the theft by John Carmack of RAGE source code and thousands of electronic files on a USB storage drive which contained ZeniMax VR technology." ZeniMax may still seek to halt sales of the Oculus Rift headset despite the partial ruling in Oculus' favor. A ZeniMax spokesperson told Polygon that the company "will consider what further steps we need to take to ensure there will be no ongoing use of our misappropraited 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."
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