The lawsuit between ZeniMax and the Oculus Rift team has come to a somewhat conclusive end.
The jury of the United States District court in the North District of Texas determined that Palmer Luckey, Brendan Iribe and the team that left ZeniMax after Facebook’s acquisition of the project broke their non-disclosure agreement. Luckey will have to pay $50m while Iribe will pay $150m; the rest of the $500m will be paid by the company.
While the payments are hard to swallow, they are better than the nearly $6 billion payment ZeniMax’s attorney was arguing for. An Oculus spokesperson was pleased with the outcome, citing that they walk away having proven that Oculus did not steal any trade secrets.
“The heart of this case was about whether Oculus stole ZeniMax’s trade secrets, and the jury found decisively in our favor. 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.”
However, the jury did find that John Carmack, one of the creators of Quake and Doom and current Rift CTO, took thousands of files that involving the development of Rage and ZeniMax’s in-house VR technology. No damages were awarded for this.
The Oculus Rift development team was sold to Facebook back in 2014 for $2 billion. While the lawsuit between the companies may be over right now (Oculus plans to appeal) ZeniMax might look into an injunction to temporarily halt the sales of Oculus Rift headsets, according to a statement released by the company.
“We will consider what further steps we need to take to ensure there will be no ongoing use of our misappropriated technology, including by seeking an injunction to restrain Oculus and Facebook from their ongoing use of computer code that the jury found infringed ZeniMax’s copyrights.”
With sales of VR headsets not taking off as expected and developers still experimenting with how to best use it, a stoppage this big could seriously hurt the future of the Rift. It retails for $599, a premium over the PlayStation VR at $399 and more reasonably priced than the HTC Vive at $799. However, the outcome of this lawsuit could hurt the chances of the pioneer company behind VR’s resurgence in the home market.