U.S., District Court in Dallas, Texas award ZeniMax $500 million in the copyright and trademark infringement lawsuit they filed against Facebook and Oculus.
The company recently issued a statement praising the decision as a means of protecting their intellectual property rights and the original ZeniMax VR technology. Robert Altman, the CEO of ZeniMax, stated in the press release…
“Technology is the foundation of our business and we consider the theft of our intellectual property to be a serious matter. We appreciate the jury’s finding against the defendants, and the award of half a billion dollars in damages for those serious violations.”
The lawsuit was put in ZeniMax favor after “uncontradicted evidence” was presented to the court that showed that former id Software designer John Carmack had provided data to Oculus that they claimed contained copyrighted code that belonged to ZeniMax.
They claimed that Palmer Luckey, the Oculus founder, needed Carmack to crack the code and bridge together the necessary software requirements to turn VR into a lucrative consumer product and pastime.
The press release has a rather foreboding conclusion in regards to the future of Oculus and VR in general, where it states…
“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.”
Ultimately, does this mean they’ll have to pull all software from the Oculus Store that uses code claimed to have originated from the offices under the ZeniMax label? What happens to software support? What happens to future software releases? And most importantly, what happens to the Oculus Rift?
This could be a huge blow to the fledgling VR market, which is still having trouble gaining a decent foothold in the market due to software exclusivity, high pricing and a lack of a killer app. If the Oculus Rift takes a hit in the VR market, it could end up hampering VR progress on a whole. Despite a lot of people not liking Facebook getting involved with the Oculus Rift, the reality is that they’ve still pumped a lot of money into producing content for the headset. So if this move results in fewer amounts of content for VR headsets being produced, then it doesn’t really help grow the VR marketplace.