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Oculus owes half a billion dollars to ZeniMax for copyright infringement

05 February 2017

ZeniMax, the owner of game studios Bethesda Softworks and id Software, has been awarded $500 million by a jury in its lawsuit against Oculus Virtual Reality and its parent company, Facebook, according to Polygon.

While the jury found that Oculus had not misappropriated trade secrets from ZeniMax-a major part of the case-it determined that Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey had violated a non-disclosure agreement with the company when working on early prototypes of the Rift VR headset, according to a copy of the verdict obtained by Ars Technica. Oculus and Luckey each have to pay an extra $50 million for false designation - essentially, when someone falsely claims their origin - while Brendan Iribe, the former CEO of Oculus, will have to pay $150 million.

Oculus may be a virtual reality company, a jury said it owes real money for stealing trade secrets.

However, the results threatened to be overshadowed by reports that a usa jury had ruled against Facebook in a case over its virtual reality business.

The full detail of the result and the case's complicated background is covered by Polygon, which has been reporting from the courtroom throughout the case. Neither Oculus nor Facebook were found liable for unfair competition. Carmack, in a post on Facebook, disagreed with that finding, saying ZeniMax's expert witness who explained the code copying to the jury called it "not literally copied" - a copy of an idea instead of letter-by-letter code.

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Last August, ZeniMax directly accused id Software co-founder John Carmack of theft, claiming he stole data from the company before he left.

Facebook's acquisition of Oculus gave it a head start against Microsoft Corp., Sony Corp., Alphabet Inc.'s Google and others competing for a piece of the virtual reality market that's forecast to exceed US$84 billion in sales in 2020.

ZeniMax lawyers had sought a whopping $2 billion in compensation and the same amount again in punitive damages, but today's decision still reflects a significant judgement against Oculus. 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 guess Palmer Luckey isn't so lucky any more...