Earlier in January, it was announced that ZeniMax was seeking damages against Facebook and Oculus. ZeniMax accused Oculus and its founder Palmer Luckey of stealing VR technology. Now, the jury has come to a decision, and Facebook will now have to pay damages. Oculus was found guilty of breaching a non-disclosure agreement and copying the source code and other assets via a USB stick. While ZeniMax was not awarded the full amount, it is still a significant sum of money.
Facebook loses out
The lawsuit took place in Texas and took approximately two weeks. During the court proceedings, Mark Zuckerberg took the stand to defend his company. Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe, the founders of Oculus, also had to testify. Originally ZeniMax was looking for damages to the tune of US$4Billion (S$5.64Billion). In the end, the jury ruled in favour of ZeniMax, and Facebook now has to pay damages of US$500million(S$704million). On top of this, Luckey must pay US$50million(S$5.6million) and Iribe US$150million(S$211million). Altogether, that earns ZeniMax US$700million(S$986million).
ZeniMax might not have gotten all the damages they sought, but the ruling goes beyond just earning them money. The company had alleged that the original Rift DK1 was made with assets that did not belong to Luckey. Now, what was once seen as the product of a young genius in a garage is seen as the product of corporate espionage. Robert Altman, Chairman of ZeniMax, said, “Technology is the foundation of our business, and we consider the theft of our intellectual property to be a serious matter.”
The future for Facebook and Oculus?
This court decision is not good for Facebook and Oculus, who have had their fair share of controversial moments. Exclusivity deals that went wrong, Luckey’s ties to the alt-right during the US elections, and now this. What was once the pioneer of VR is now not looking so good, especially since their legacy is now in question. Oculus is planning to appeal the decision. “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,” the Oculus statement said.
Can Oculus get passed this hurdle? With Facebook’s developments in Social VR, this could be possible, but there is no way of knowing for now.
Source: Channel News Asia