Facebook have been ordered to pay $500 million in damages to ZeniMax after a court ruled they had unlawfully used the video game publisher’s virtual reality technology. The figure is much less than the $2 billion originally asked for by ZeniMax.
The public jury trial began in Dallas on January 9 and lasted almost a month. Over the course of the trial, the jury heard testimony from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey.
Zuckerberg told the court that it was important for him to give testimony because the claims being made by ZeniMax were “false.” At the time of the acquisition, he said he was not aware of any theft claims. He also said that the technology was not even fully formed when his company agreed to buy it. Luckey appeared later to refute claims that he had broken an NDA regarding proprietary information owned by ZeniMax.
However, the jury found Luckey had broken the agreement with ZeniMax after leaving the firm to join Oculus. They also decided the defendants had not taken ZeniMax's trade secrets in the development of the Oculus Rift but had used code belonging to the video games company.
Zenimax Chief Executive Robert Altman said they were happy with the result but regretted having to go to litigate to vindicate its rights:
“We are pleased the jury has awarded ZeniMax $500m for defendants' unlawful infringement of our copyrights and trademarks. It was necessary to take a stand against companies that engage in illegal activity in their desire to get control of new, valuable technology.”
The company said it is now looking into a separate court order to limit Oculus and Facebook's use of the code.
“The heart of this case was about whether Oculus stole ZeniMax’s trade secrets, and the jury found decisively in our favor,” Oculus spokeswoman Tera Randall 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.”
Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus gave it a head start over its rivals in the virtual reality market, which is fiercely competitive and forecast to reach $13.05 billion by 2020. Facebook began shipping the Oculus Rift for $599 in March.
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