A United States court has directed Facebook-owned virtual reality company Oculus to pay $500 million (around Rs 3,370 crore) in damages to video game developer ZeniMax for illegally using its technology. The jury of the Dallas, Texas, court found Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey – and in turn the company – guilty of copyright infringement and charges of false designation of origin, in addition to violating the terms of a non-disclosure agreement with ZeniMax, TechCrunch reported.
The video game developer had sued Oculus, which Facebook acquired in 2014, alleging that it had copied the computer code used in its VR headset, the Rift, to create its own model. The jury, however, ruled in favour of Oculus in one count, finding it not guilty of misappropriating trade secrets. “Technology is the foundation of our business and we consider the theft of our intellectual property to be a serious matter,” said ZeniMax CEO Robert Altman.
Of the total fine, Oculus has to pay $200 million (Rs 1,340 crore), Luckey has to personally pay $50 million (Rs 337 crore), and former Oculus chief executive Brendan Iribe will be made to pay $150 million (Rs 1,011 crore). The $500 million in damages is only a fraction of the $6 billion that ZeniMax had sought in damages.
The Facebook-owned company, however, maintained that “Oculus products are built with Oculus technology” and said it would challenge the ruling of the US District Court in Dallas. “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,” Facebook said in a statement.
The news emerged even as Facebook’s quarterly earnings report showed a 117% rise in its profits. The social media giant’s shares shot up by 3% after the report was released. “Our mission to connect the world is more important now than ever,” said Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “Our business did well in 2016, but we have a lot of work ahead to help bring people together.”
The lesser-own tech firm in the case ZeniMax owns Bethesda Softworks, which is known for publishing games such as the Fallout series and Skyrim – one of the best-selling video games ever.