Oculus ordered to pay up on ZeniMax tech

keep_calm_and_love_your_patent_lawyer_2_inch_round_magnet-re8c2c059dc99401ca676f1a1e58344f5_x7js9_8byvr_324A US jury in Texas ordered Oculus, and other defendants to pay a combined $500 million to ZeniMax Media, a video game publisher that claims Oculus stole its technology.

The jury thought that in 2014, Oculus used ZeniMax’s computer code to launch the Rift virtual-reality headset. ZeniMax alleges that video game designer John Carmack developed core parts of the Rift’s technology while working at a ZeniMax subsidiary. Oculus hired Carmack in 2013.

ZeniMax Chief Executive Robert Altman hailed the verdict and said in a statement the company was considering seeking an order blocking Oculus and Facebook from using its code. It is unclear what impact that would have on the Rift’s market availability.

However, the jury ruled that none of the defendants misappropriated ZeniMax’s trade secrets, but it did think that Oculus’ use of computer code directly infringed on ZeniMax’s copyright. The jurors held Carmack and different Oculus co-founders Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe liable for forms of infringement.

The jury also found Oculus liable for breaching a non-disclosure agreement Luckey signed with ZeniMax in 2012, when he began corresponding about virtual reality with Carmack.

Carmack worked for id Software before that company was acquired by ZeniMax. He is now the chief technology officer at Oculus.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg testified last month during the three-week trial that none of ZeniMax’s proprietary code was incorporated into the Rift.

In a statement, Oculus spokeswoman Emily Bauer noted the jury’s finding on trade secrets theft and said the company would appeal. “We’re obviously disappointed by a few other aspects of today’s verdict, but we are undeterred,” she said. “Oculus products are built with Oculus technology.”