Oculus costs Facebook $500 million in virtual reality lawsuit

Gaming / Tech

At the heart of the lawsuit, was whether or not John Carmack brought any inside information with him when he left ZeniMax to join Oculus.

Facebook’s purchase of Oculus a few years ago was a huge splash, instantly catapulting the social network close to the top of the burgeoning virtual reality pile. The move allowed Facebook to get a huge head start over potential competitors such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, or anybody else looking to get in on the growing field. The $2 billion price tag seemed high, but potentially worth it for the company that was as far along as it was in its development. A jury has decided that Oculus may have had an unfair head start, costing Facebook an additional $500 million in damages.

At the heart of the lawsuit, brought forward by ZeniMax, was whether or not John Carmack brought any inside information with him when he left ZeniMax to join Oculus. Carmack is well known as the creator of Doom and Quake, and he joined Oculus in 2013 as their chief technology officer. ZeniMax’s lawsuit alleged that some of the major aspects of Oculus hardware and software were created at ZeniMax, and taken from them when Carmack left ZeniMax to go to Oculus.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg ended up testifying in the case, not surprisingly stating that the allegations by ZeniMax were false, but the jury thought otherwise:

While the jury rejected trade-secret theft claims, it awarded $200 million in damages against Oculus for violating a non-disclosure agreement, $50 million for copyright infringement and $50 million for improper use of ZeniMax’s trademarks. Jurors also hit Oculus’s co-founders, Brendan Iribe and Palmer Luckey, with $150 million and $50 million in damages, respectively, for the trademark misuse. The jury found that Carmack took property belonging to ZeniMax but awarded no damages against him.

Curious that the one actually accused of taking the property was not explicitly punished for doing so. Before you start to worry about the future of Facebook, and whether or not Zuckerberg will continue to be incredibly wealthy, even $500 million is comparatively little to the social media behemoth. Even if ZeniMax had been awarded the full $2 billion they were seeking, Facebook probably still would have barely noticed it missing. If nothing else, hopefully this court cause will cause Facebook and others to be more careful in cases like this.

What do you think about the results of this case? Tell us what you think in the comment section below, or on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter.

  Source: Bloomberg
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