Facebook’s Oculus Ordered To Pay $500 Million In ZeniMax VR Suit

Co-Founder Palmer Luckey And CEO Iribe To Pay $50M And $150M Respectively

ZeniMax on Wednesday won a $500 million award in its lawsuit against Oculus. Mark Zuckerberg's testimony was not enough to fully sway the jury, which sided with ZeniMax and found that Oculus executives broke a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) when the Oculus Rift was in its beginning stages. However, the jury also decided that Oculus did not misappropriate trade secrets as ZeniMax alleged in its lawsuit.

Oculus is on the hook for more than half of the $500 million award—it owes ZeniMax $200 million for breaking the NDA, $50 million for copyright infringement, and another $50 million for false designation. Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey also has to pay ZeniMax $50 for false designation, with the other co-founder Brendan Iribe ordered to pay the remaining $150 million for the same charge.

Palmer Luckey
Image Source: Flickr (eVRydayVR)

ZeniMax had sought as much as $2 billion in compensation and another $4 billion in punitive damages over what it considered to be outright theft of its technology. Prior to filing the lawsuit, ZeniMax publicly accused John Carmack of providing technology to Oculus. The company's lawsuit was centered around the allegation that Luckey and several former ZeniMax employees now working at Oculus built the Rift headset using research and copyrighted code developed at ZeniMax.

"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," ZeniMax CEO Robert Altman said in a statement.

While ZeniMax is pleased with the award, it does not consider the matter settled. The company indicated that it may seek an injunction against Oculus and Facebook from selling Rift headsets. Meanwhile, Oculus said it plans to appeal the verdict.

"The heart of this case was about whether Oculus stole ZeniMax's trade secrets, and the jury found decisively in our favor," Oculus said in a statement. "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."

As is often the case with legal matters of this magnitude, this one is probably far from over.