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Jury Awards ZeniMax $500 Million in Contentious Oculus Lawsuit

Co-founder Palmer Luckey found responsible for breaking a non-disclosure agreement.

by Patrick Klepek
Feb 1 2017, 8:58pm

Image courtesy of Oculus

A heated lawsuit between ZeniMax Media and Facebook, owners of Oculus, ended today with a Dallas, Texas jury awarding $500 million to ZeniMax over Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey failing to comply with a non-disclosure agreement. The jury decided Oculus had not misappropriated trade secrets. The news was first reported by Polygon.

Prior to deliberations, ZeniMax, the company who owns Bethesda Softworks, asked for the jury to award the company as much as $4 billion. 

Oculus has said it will appeal the verdict, while ZeniMax said it will continue to explore legal options.

"We will consider what further steps we need to take to ensure there will be no ongoing use of our misappropriated technology," said the company in a statement, "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. "

That last one has enormous implications; presumably ZeniMax would be trying to limit the sales of Oculus Rift devices.

Polygon has been closely following this story. If you're looking for a closer look at the whole case's merits, I'd recommend checking out this pieceI'd recommend checking out this piece. Here's an excerpt:

ZeniMax's attorney listed damages, too. He stated figures — according to varying tabulations from prior testimony by damages expert Daniel Jackson — ranging from $1.33 billion all the way to $2 billion for punitive damages. Sammi also pushed for compensatory awards, an additional total that could be as much as the damages, bringing the entire total to as much as $4 billion. He cited Facebook's tremendous net worth here, arguing for higher damages and compensations.

Oculus' Wilkinson then took the floor, laying out her argument just as strongly. Her opening was a plea to the decency of the jury, calling out ZeniMax for belittling the defendants and their witness for offering disagreeable testimony during cross examination. "They're jealous, they're angry, and they're embarrassed," she said, going on to quote the plaintiffs calling Oculus a group of "clowns" and decrying the Rift as "stupid."

Facebook decided to bet big on virtual reality when it purchased Oculus for $2 billion in 2014. After years of tweaking developer kits, its first consumer headset shipped last year, alongside competing headsets from HTC and Sony.

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