Sat. Jun 3rd, 2023
Oculus, execs liable for $500 million in ZeniMax VR trial


A jury has found Oculus and its executives liable for total damages of $500 million in a lawsuit over misuse of technology created at Id Software parent company ZeniMax Media.

While the jury found that Oculus had not misappropriated any trade secrets from ZeniMax — a key part of the case — it found that Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey had breached a nondisclosure agreement with the company while working on early prototypes of the Rift VR headset, it turns out. from a copy of the Ars Technica verdict. Oculus was also held liable for copyright and trademark infringement for misuse of certain ZeniMax code and logos. The company, Luckey and Iribe were also held liable for misrepresentation related to the misuse of certain ZeniMax trademarks.

Oculus is liable for $300 million in the judgment ($50 million for trademark infringement, $50 million for copyright infringement and $200 million for violating the NDA), while Luckey owes $50 million and former Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe owes $150 million (both for false designation). Oculus CTO John Carmack, who previously worked for ZeniMax and was charged with stealing code and destroying evidence, is not personally liable for any damages. ZeniMax had claimed $6 billion in damages in the case.

The jury acquitted Oculus parent company Facebook of alleged wrongful interference in the ZeniMax NDA during its 2014 $2 billion acquisition, according to reports. Neither Oculus nor Facebook were held liable for unfair competition.

“The crux of this case was whether Oculus stole ZeniMax’s trade secrets, and the jury ruled decisively in our favor,” Oculus said in a statement to Ars. “We are obviously disappointed in some 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 that they have been doing since day one: developing VR technology that will transform the way people interact and communicate. We look forward to filing our appeal and finally putting this lawsuit behind us.”

The verdict comes after three days of jury deliberation and about three weeks of testimony, including defenses from Carmack, Luckey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Oculus says it plans to appeal the false designation charge.

ZeniMax’s case against Oculus dates back to 2014, when the company first publicly accused Oculus of illegally using code and technology Carmack developed at Id Software before joining Oculus as CTO in 2013. Carmack and Luckey had teamed up under NDA to create a 2012 E3 demo of an early Oculus Rift prototype running Downfall 3.

But ZeniMax claimed that Carmack’s help went way beyond that demo and that, without Carmack’s help, Luckey “missed the training, expertise, resources or know-how to create commercially viable VR technology”. While the companies negotiated ZeniMax to buying a small share of ownership of Oculus after their partnership, those talks eventually broke down and ZeniMax ordered Carmack to halt all work on VR projects.

Carmack testified that he copied thousands of emails to a personal hard drive on his last day at ZeniMax, but claimed that he rewritten every code used on the Rift and Gear VR headsets from scratch.

ZeniMax also argued that Facebook failed to conduct its due diligence and ignored warning signs of obfuscated technology in its eagerness to buy Oculus in 2014.

By akfire1

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