ZeniMax wins $500 million from Oculus in IP lawsuit

While the lawsuit between ZeniMax and Oculus isn't over, the jury for the case has made decisions on a couple significant aspects of the suit. The court has awarded ZeniMax $500 million in damages over its allegations.

TechCrunch's man on the ground broke down the verdict. The jury awarded ZeniMax $200 million for its finding that Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey violated a non-disclosure agreement he'd signed with the publisher. It awarded another $50 million for copyright infringement. Luckey will owe a further $50 million, and co-founder Brendan Iribe, another $150 million for false designation of origin. The jury was not convinced that now-Oculus CTO John Carmack misappropriated trade secrets when he left ZeniMax to join Oculus.

The lawsuit has been proceeding since the spring of 2014, when ZeniMax first filed suit shortly after Facebook's $2 billion acquisition of Oculus. Oculus claimed it had no ZeniMax IP in its gear. Oculus called the suit wasteful just last month, but it seems the jury mostly disagreed.

Regarding the ruling, Oculus issued a statement to Game Informer that it's "disappointed by a few aspects of today's verdict," but "are undeterred." The company also said in the statement that it plans to file an appeal on the decision rendered. ZeniMax said in a statment that it's pleased with the result, and added that "the jury upheld our complaint regarding the theft by John Carmack of RAGE source code and thousands of electronic files on a USB storage drive which contained ZeniMax VR technology."

ZeniMax may still seek to halt sales of the Oculus Rift headset despite the partial ruling in Oculus' favor. A ZeniMax spokesperson told Polygon that the company "will consider what further steps we need to take to ensure there will be no ongoing use of our misappropraited 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."

As GameInformer notes, there are other questions still up for debate in the suit, and the jury award could still get closer to ZeniMax's initial $6 billion claim. If ZeniMax is successful in securing an injunction against Oculus' continued sales of the Rift headset, it would be another black eye for the still-young VR company. Given its deep-pocketed parent, however, Oculus can probably weather any storms that come its way.

Comments closed
    • TheMonkeyKing
    • 3 years ago

    For those wondering about IP, ” false designation of origin” is almost as good as someone registering intellectual property but not using it. The parallel is selling written work without attributing any sourced material, like copying verbatim another’s quotes.

    This is where justification by concept is applicable instead of concrete proof. So when Occulus was sold to Facebook, Occulus did not attribute any concepts of design to Zenimax. That’s why when you have a good idea, you talk to patent attorneys right away before even discussing with your friends.

    • CScottG
    • 3 years ago

    I read the jury instructions and outcome. My guess is that there is plenty of “fodder” for appeal there – the issues are just really complex and I’m not sure the instructions were “good enough”.

    Then there is the issue of damages.

    Where the hell do they get these figures? It’s like they (plaintiff) are pulling figures out of their collective @ss’s , and then the jury run’s with a percentage of that after finding fault.

    *UCK. Show me substantive damage in a case like this..

    • Chrispy_
    • 3 years ago

    So Carmack is clean but $250M in total between Oculus, Palmer and Iribe over “false designation of origin”?

    I presume this means that the Oculus team were releasing news and press that they had Carmack on board “from id/Zenimax” when Carmack was actually on board personally and not as a Zenimax employee. $250M seems a lot from a grey area.

    I mean, listing someone’s current/previous exprience with id/Zenimax isn’t the same as outright saying that all of id/Zenimax are on board. What did Oculus actually say when Carmack joined the project? I wasn’t following it that closely back then….

    • DoomGuy64
    • 3 years ago

    ZeniMax is full of crap. They might as well sue Carmack for infringing rocket technology.

    Rage never supported any form of 3d being a console port locked @ 60hz, and the Rift didn’t physically exist during it’s development. Zenimax never had any VR technology, as Carmack worked on it outside of id. They’re trying to acquire something that isn’t theirs, and never was.

      • pranav0091
      • 3 years ago

      Do you know something that the lawyers and jury don’t?

      Just because you don’t like company A personally doesn’t make them any more wrong or right in a lawsuit. Thats for the court to decide. As for the “jury” system prevalent in the US of A, I never really was a fan of it – people are predictably fallible. But isn’t it the case that if the judge disagrees, he can set aside the jury and go solo?

      Either way, you aren’t making a sound argument.

      <I work at Nvidia, but my comments are personal opinions>

        • DoomGuy64
        • 3 years ago

        No, I just know some obvious facts that you don’t.

        1. Carmack wasn’t found guilty by the Jury. You’re conflating the other issues with his innocence.
        2. If you paid attention to reality at all, you’d know that everything I said is public information. 1: Rage does not support VR, and never did. 2: Carmack worked separately on the Oculus from Zenimax. He has stated this IN DETAIL before, and the jury has cleared him.

    • tootercomputer
    • 3 years ago

    I had the opporunity to try on a headset and do a couple of brief VR games at the Microsoft store in Salt Lake City a few weeks ago. I head the headset and earphones on for about 15 minutes. It was my first eperience using VR, I don’t recall the name of the games, the maker of the headset, I just remember that I’m standing at the front of the store in full daylight with people coming and going but I was totally oblivious as I was in this other world. It was a lot of fun, and I hope patnent violations and disputes and overall corporate skullduggery does not impede the progress of this very cool and promising technology. And on so many fronts. I evaluate and diagnosis children with autism spectrum disorder, and I could see this technology playing a role in treatment for ASD.

    It could be so awesome, so please, let greed propel this technology forward and not drag it down and render it a lost opportunity..

      • Neutronbeam
      • 3 years ago

      Thank you for what you do…and VR has the potential to help with many disorders, such as agoraphobia.

        • Thresher
        • 3 years ago

        I think there is agreement that it has uses and may be a great tool.

        The question is whether or not it is a mass market entertainment device or a niche device. I lean towards niche.

        • VincentHanna
        • 3 years ago

        The pessimists among us might note that VR technologies also have the potential to CAUSE psychological disorders.

    • albundy
    • 3 years ago

    haha! stop stealing and you wont get sued!

    • ljaszcza
    • 3 years ago

    I’m glad that Carmack is pretty much cleared by the jury. I like his talks, he seems honest and straightforward, I hoped that he did not abscond with a bunch of corporate code.

      • ludi
      • 3 years ago

      More than likely, he does have some of his old coding work stored locally, and he and his former company (id Software) have a, shall we say, “disagreement” over who owns what.

      Many companies try to establish arrangements whereby anything you create while under their employ, is unconditionally and exclusively licensed to the company from time immemorial until the heat or ice death of the universe (whichever comes first). Some US states have laws saying that such agreements are unenforceable, but not all do.

        • jihadjoe
        • 3 years ago

        I think he mentioned something about having to re-code a lot of his stuff after moving. Zenimax might own his old code, but they don’t own his brain and he’s free to re-implement anything he’s done before.

          • spugm1r3
          • 3 years ago

          Isn’t that the wonderful, landmine-filled, world we live in as programmers?

      • Wonders
      • 3 years ago

      Here is Carmack’s take on the trial:
      [url<]https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1913546895546485&id=100006735798590[/url<]

    • DancinJack
    • 3 years ago

    [url<]http://www.polygon.com/2017/2/1/14478258/zenimax-oculus-injunction[/url<] They may call for a court order stopping FB/Oculus from selling Rifts until the copyright infringement is fixed too. I don't know how many they are selling these days, but it still hurts.

    • mizkitty64
    • 3 years ago

    Zuckerborg claimed he’d never even heard of Zenimax.

    Wouldn’t surprise me if that was actually true…funny…but still scary that he doesn’t know Id or Bethesda.

    Probably didn’t know who John Carmack was either…

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 3 years ago

      Also would be the first time anyone has lied on the stand. Def not likely.

    • chuckula
    • 3 years ago

    Yes. I knew this day would come.

    [b<][i<]Zen[/i<][/b<]imax lawsuit victory CONFIRMED!

      • JalaleenRumi
      • 3 years ago

      Oh for the LOVE of GOD, man!

    • Namarrgon
    • 3 years ago

    TechCrunch: “Worth noting that the bulk of this is not for the NDA, rather Oculus making it publicly seem like ZeniMax was collaborating on the Rift”

      • psuedonymous
      • 3 years ago

      We demand millions in damages for someone else peripherally implying we’re providing technical assistance on the forefront of computing! They’ve tarnished our good name for continuing to abuse the Gamebryo well beyond it’s useful lifetime! If people got the mistaken idea we had technical ability, they might demand software that crashes less!

    • DPete27
    • 3 years ago

    Wasn’t it established that this was blatant copyright bullying from ZeniMax? They’re all butt-hurt because they’ve faded into irrelevancy and they see Oculus flourishing.

      • PBCrunch
      • 3 years ago

      The irrelevancy of publishing arguably the best video game of 2016?

      The court apparently thought at least some of ZeniMax’s claims had merit.

      • morphine
      • 3 years ago

      Irrelevancy? Zenimax owns Bethesda, id, Arkane, and a few others.

      Note: I’m making no judgement call on the motivations, just noting that it’s not a two-bit company forgotten with time.

      • Vhalidictes
      • 3 years ago

      I didn’t follow this closely enough to have a strong opinion, but I do have two thoughts:

      1) The Jury thought something was there, and
      2) ZeniMax isn’t a troll company so I’d assume they wouldn’t sue without a decent reason.

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 3 years ago

      -Casual

      • DancinJack
      • 3 years ago

      Irrelevancy = Dishonored 2, Fallout 4, ES Online, DOOM apparently.

      lol c’mon DPete

        • DPete27
        • 3 years ago

        Oops, my bad.

      • Krogoth
      • 3 years ago

      I think you got it mixed up.

      It is Oculus that is fading into irrelevancy.

        • Pwnstar
        • 3 years ago

        Especially if they aren’t allowed to sell any more of their current headsets.

      • pranav0091
      • 3 years ago

      [quote<]Wasn't it established that this was blatant copyright bullying from ZeniMax?[/quote<] If you read the post carefully, you'll find that it wasn't...

      • K-L-Waster
      • 3 years ago

      Established in court? Or on tha interwebz?

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