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Sales of Facebook’s Oculus Rift virtual reality headset could be halted after it lost a lawsuit to software publisher ZeniMax on Wednesday.
ZeniMax, which owns id Software, the former employer of Oculus’ chief technology officer John Carmack, said in a statement that it was considering seeking an injunction after a jury in Texas found that executives at the VR group broke a non-disclosure agreement and infringed its copyright. The jury awarded ZeniMax $500m in damages – a figure that fell short of the $6bn that the software company had sought.
“We will consider what further steps we need to take to ensure there will be no ongoing use of our misappropriated 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,” ZeniMax said.
Oculus declined to comment on the potential injunction. The jury cleared its founder Palmer Luckey and other Oculus executives of stealing trade secrets, after ZeniMax argued that its Rift headset had been created using its own R&D work. The lawsuit was filed soon after Facebook paid $2bn to acquire Oculus in 2014.
ZeniMax said it was “pleased” with the jury’s $500m award.
“In addition, the jury upheld our complaint regarding the theft by John Carmack of RAGE source code and thousands of electronic files on a USB storage device which contained ZeniMax VR technology,” it said. “Oculus’ response in this case that it didn’t use any code or other assistance it received from ZeniMax was not credible, and is contradicted by the testimony of Oculus programmers (who admitted cutting and pasting ZeniMax code into the Oculus SDK), as well as by expert testimony.”
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who gave evidence during the trial, told analysts on Tuesday’s earnings call that while he was pleased with the 5m sales of Samsung’s Gear VR, which is based on Oculus software, it could take 10 years before VR becomes a mainstream technology, requiring many years of significant investment.