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Jury Delivers Judgement On Oculus Vs. ZeniMax Lawsuit, Awards ZeniMax $500 Million

Nearly three years ago, ZeniMax Media and its subsidiary, id Software, filed a lawsuit against Oculus in the Northern District Court of Texas. The complaint accused Oculus of "unlawful exploitation of intellectual property, including trade secrets, copyrighted computer code, and technical know-how relating to virtual reality technology that was developed by ZeniMax after years of research and investment."

In early January 2017, the two companies began making their arguments in court. Over the course of the month, Oculus' top brass, including Palmer Luckey and John Carmack, and Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, took the stand and told the jury their side of the story. By the end of the month, ZeniMax revealed it would seek $4 billion in damages from Oculus and its parent company, Facebook.

Lawyers for both sides delivered closing arguments on Friday, January 27, 2016, and the jury was expected to deliver its judgment on Monday, January 31. The jury deliberated for two additional days, but it delivered its judgment on the afternoon of February 1.

The jury cleared Oculus and Facebook of misappropriation of trade secrets, but it found Luckey and Oculus at fault for failing to adhere to a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). As a result of the NDA breach, the jury awarded ZeniMax $500 million. We haven’t received an official breakdown from either company, but Polygon reported that the fine doesn’t just land on Oculus. Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe are responsible for $50 million and $150 million, respectively. We’ve asked for confirmation of the fine values and will update once we hear from either company.

Oculus did confirm that the trial is over, and a representative commented about the verdict:

The heart of this case was about whether Oculus stole ZeniMax's trade secrets, and the jury found decisively in our favor. 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.

$500 million is a large fine, but it’s a far cry from the $4 billion that ZeniMax was seeking. The fine will undoubtedly be a hard hit for the VR company, which dealt with setbacks and production delays throughout much of 2016.

  • photonboy
    Too many early adopter woes for me to consider investing in VR anyway. I'd pay maybe $400USD including controllers with a HUD that has the WIRELESS technology built into it as well (including battery so NO wires at all to use).

    Need more software as well, but my main interest would be STAR CITIZEN which is shaping up nicely.

    There's also stuff like immersive reality that requires external CAMERAS so I don't want to buy something NOW that is outdated or requires too many add-ons with wires wrapped around my head.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    I thought Carmack was frustrated by ZeniMax' lack of commitment to VR. Isn't that why he jumped ship and went to Oculus?

    I hope the damages get adjusted downward, because there's no way ZeniMax stood to make even 1/10th that much from VR. As a punitive judgment, it's a ridiculous amount for breach of NDA.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    19240835 said:
    Too many early adopter woes for me to consider investing in VR anyway.
    Okay, great. But what does this have to do with the story? It's not like VR is going away, now.
    Reply
  • Sakkura
    Actually the NDA was only a minor part of the verdict. Half the damages came from infringement on Zenimax copyrights and trademarks. Basically the worst thing Oculus did was use the names and logos of some id and Bethesda games without explicit permission (like how the Kickstarter campaign promised a copy of Doom 3 BFG at some tiers).
    Reply
  • David Whapham
    "Too many early adopter woes for me to consider investing in VR anyway."

    I wasn't sure myself but I really wanted to try it so I bought the Vive a few weeks ago with the intention of returning it if it sucked. I was actually blown away at how good VR actually is, even in it's young state. I'm not sure what early adoptor woes you are referring to. There is plenty of content, and it works very well. My only grip is that the cables can get bit annoying, especially in a larger space like I have mine setup in. I will be investing in the wireless adapter once it is release later this year.
    Reply
  • st_ranger
    19240953 said:
    19240835 said:
    Too many early adopter woes for me to consider investing in VR anyway.
    Okay, great. But what does this have to do with the story? It's not like VR is going away, now.

    You know what happened to Pebble Watch? The company is no more, and if you bought that watch then you'd have to deal loose ends left in the product (things that don't quite work).
    Reply
  • problematiq
    19242445 said:
    "Too many early adopter woes for me to consider investing in VR anyway."

    I wasn't sure myself but I really wanted to try it so I bought the Vive a few weeks ago with the intention of returning it if it sucked. I was actually blown away at how good VR actually is, even in it's young state. I'm not sure what early adoptor woes you are referring to. There is plenty of content, and it works very well. My only grip is that the cables can get bit annoying, especially in a larger space like I have mine setup in. I will be investing in the wireless adapter once it is release later this year.

    Welcome to the club my friend.
    Reply
  • Jan_26
    Come on folks, these devices are 20 years late. First came VFX-1 helmet, I still remember playing System Shock on that.
    Reply