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ZeniMax wins $500 million in lawsuit against VR leader Oculus

More sweet than bitter for the creators of the Rift VR headset.


Phillip Tracy


Posted on Feb 1, 2017   Updated on May 25, 2021, 2:10 am CDT

ZeniMax Media on Wednesday won its lawsuit against Oculus

But it’s the Facebook-owned virtual reality pioneer that comes out of the three-year lawsuit with its head held high, despite losing a few battles and half a billion dollars.

A jury in Dallas awarded ZeniMax $500 million for finding that its ex-employee, Palmer Luckey, breached non-disclosure agreements when moving to his new job at Oculus.

Luckey will personally have to pay $50 million, while Oculus’ CEO at the time, Brendan Iribe, will be forced to pay $150 million for false designation. Oculus will need to cover the remaining $200 million.

The verdict could have been much worse for the virtual reality company.

ZeniMax filed suit against Oculus to the tune of $4 billion for punitive damages and compensation. It claims Oculus used its ex-employees and millions of dollars of its research to help develop the Rift. However, the jury concluded Oculus did not use trade secrets to assist in the development of its virtual reality headset when it hired John Carmack, infamous video game programmer with ZeniMax (Doom, Quake, Rage), and current CTO at Oculus VR.

“The heart of this case was about whether Oculus stole ZeniMax’s trade secrets, and the jury found decisively in our favor,” an Oculus spokesperson told the Daily Dot. “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. We look forward to filing our appeal and eventually putting this litigation behind us.” 

It is unclear what the ruling means for the future of Oculus, and its virtual reality products. It does mean Facebook’s purchase of the company will now cost $200 million more than the $2 billion it shelled out in 2014—a small drop in a huge pond of resources proven by the Q4 fiscal report Facebook released today.

ZeniMax did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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*First Published: Feb 1, 2017, 7:48 pm CST