In a new lawsuit with games company ZeniMax, Oculus has been ordered to pay half a billion dollars by a jury who determined that Oculus executives had, in fact, violated a non-disclosure agreement with ZeniMax during the early developmental stages of the Oculus Rift VR headset.
However, it is important to note that the jury did not find Oculus guilty of misappropriating trade secrets, which is another charge the game company filed.
In an official statement, a spokesperson from Oculus characterized this judgment as a limited victory. The company said, “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.”
And while it may seem that ZeniMax would be at odds at the partial finding, the company appears to be in good spirits about the decision. ZeniMax CEO Robert Altman comments, “Technology is the foundation of our business and we consider the theft of our intellectual property to be a serious matter. We appreciate the jury’s finding against the defendants, and the award of half a billion dollars in damages for those serious violations.”
On the other hand, ZeniMax Global Communications Director, Tracey Thompson, advises this is not the end of the matter. “We will consider what further steps we need to take to ensure there will be no ongoing use of our misappropriated technology,” she said. This could include, for example, “seeking an injunction to restrain Oculus and Facebook from their ongoing use of computer code that the jury found infringed ZeniMax’s copyrights.”
The original lawsuit was actually filed in 2014 and it had alleged that Oculus improperly used ZeniMax code when the company was building its Rift VR headset. It gets a little complicated as ZeniMax is the parent company of id Software; and the co-founder of id Software, John Carmack, is currently the Chief Technology Officer at Oculus.