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Facebook Ordered to Pay $500M in Virtual Reality Lawsuit
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Summary: ZeniMax Media has won $500 million in its case against Facebook and the virtual reality company, Oculus. 

After less than a month, the trial against Facebook and its subsidiary Oculus has resulted in a jury rewarding the plaintiff with $500 million in damages.


ZeniMax Media, the owner of Bethesda Softworks and id Software, sued Facebook and Oculus for $2 billion, claiming that Oculus had stolen their intellectual property and violated a non-disclosure agreement.

This judgment stemmed from almost two years of fighting between Zenimax and Oculus. ZeniMax Media claimed that Oculus stole their trade secrets when ZeniMax employee John Carmack left the company and joined Oculus as its chief technical officer. When questioned by ZeniMax’s legal team in January, Carmack admitted that he had made copies of ZeniMax’s intellectual property but he denied stealing entire source code, just snippets.

“I copied files that I shouldn’t have. I think stealing is an uncharitable way to look at it since I didn’t benefit and ZeniMax didn’t lose, but I shouldn’t have done it, and I did,” Carmack said.

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Facebook was named as a defendant because they bought the company in 2014 without allegedly doing enough due diligence. Oculus found Palmer Luckey was named as a defendant because he had allegedly signed a non-disclosure agreement with ZeniMax, which ZeniMax said he had violated.

Toni Sammi, an attorney for ZeniMax, said that Oculus’ thievery was “one of the biggest technology heists ever.” ZeniMax said that Oculus not only stole its trade secrets but used Carmack to determine what employees to poach.

In mid-January, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey, and former Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe testified in Dallas court; and Zuckerberg was reportedly snappy when the plaintiff’s attorneys asked why Facebook had hastily purchased Oculus, despite warnings that they were facing litigation.

ZeniMax said in a statement to Variety that they were pleased with the verdict.

“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,” ZeniMax said.

Oculus said that it was going to appeal.

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

At the time of publication, Facebook has yet to issue a statement.

Source: Variety

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