Oculus ordered to pay $500 million after lawsuit loss

Facebook's Oculus lost a case against game maker ZeniMax, leaving the tech company on the hook for $500 million.

Facebook and other defendants were ordered to pay damages of $500m, according to the reports.

For its part, Oculus claimed the suit was merely an attempt to profit off Oculus' success, since it was filed shortly after the company's multi-billion-dollar acquisition by Facebook.

Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg told CNBC's Julia Boorstin that she was "disappointed in certain elements of the decision". Oculus founder Palmer Luckey had brought an early version of the Rift to Carmack, and Carmack along with other ZeniMax employees "literally transformed the Rift by adding physical hardware components and developing specialized software for its operation". But it also decided that Oculus wasn't guilty of misappropriating trade secrets, another of ZeniMax's charges.

The company said it is now looking into a separate court order to limit Oculus and Facebook's use of the code, and could, in theory, pursue commission on Oculus sales. Facebook, for instance, claimed that Zenimax sued because the company passed on a proposed partnership with Oculus before Facebook snatched up the then-less absurdly well-funded company.

Carmack admitted in testimony that he had copied thousands of e-mails to a personal hard drive on his last day at ZeniMax, but he maintained that he rewrote any code used on the Rift and Gear VR headsets from scratch. ZeniMax also claimed that throughout 2012, Oculus and Luckey lacked the required expertise to create a "viable virtual reality headset". Oculus CTO John Carmack, who previously worked for ZeniMax and was accused of stealing code and destroying evidence, is not personally liable for any damages.

The case is ZeniMax Media Inc. v. Oculus VR Inc., 3:14-cv-01849, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas). "The heart of this case was about whether Oculus stole ZeniMax's trade secrets, and the jury found decisively in our favour", the spokesperson said. The overall award is less than the $4 billion that ZeniMax asked for, but it's a substantial judgment against Oculus.

  • Tracy Ferguson