Tech Companies Beware: Oculus Fined $500M over Code Violation

A Texas jury on Wednesday found that Facebook's virtual reality (VR) unit Oculus directly infringed on the copyright of video game publisher ZeniMax, as well as ZeniMax-owned id Software. For this and other legal violations, jurors ordered Oculus and two of its executives to pay ZeniMax a total of $500 million.

Facebook has said that it plans to appeal the decision, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Oculus also released a statement welcoming the fact that jurors rejected some of ZeniMax's allegations, which combined could have led to total damages of $2 billion.

Oculus, which released the first commercial version of its Oculus Rift VR system last year, was purchased by Facebook for $2 billion in 2014. ZeniMax and id Software filed a complaint against Oculus and co-founder Palmer Luckey in May of that year. The lawsuit was later amended to add Facebook, former Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe and John Carmack, a co-founder of id Software -- acquired by ZeniMax in 2009 -- who left that company to join Oculus, where he serves as CTO.

Findings Include Copyright, Trademark Infringement

In its original complaint, ZeniMax said that it had provided Oculus and Luckey with access to intellectual property that it had developed "after years of research and investment. This valuable intellectual property included copyrighted computer code, trade secret information, and technical know-how."

Despite having signed a binding non-disclosure agreement regarding that property, Oculus and Luckey "commercially exploited it for their own gain" and stood to reap "billions in value" from that information, ZeniMax added.

In a 90-page summary of its findings, the jury hearing the case dismissed some of ZeniMax and id Software's complaints, but decided in their favor on a number of issues, including copyright infringement, breach of contract, trademark infringement and false designation. The jury ordered Oculus...

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