Facebook Loses $500 million in Oculus Intellectual Property Case

A U.S. District Court in Dallas has ordered Facebook and other defendants to pay $500m after finding they unlawfully used ZeniMax Media’s virtual reality technology.

At issues was whether key technologies that led to the virtual reality breakthrough were stolen from ZeniMax Media. ZeniMax filed the lawsuit against Oculus VR, a company owned by Facebook, claiming that Oculus stole trade secrets and technological advances that led to the virtual reality breakthrough.  ZeniMax alleged that a former employee, John Carmack, who later became Oculus VR’s chief technology officer, helped build his new employer’s device using knowledge he gained at ZeniMax.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Chief Executive, took the witness stand last month to defend his company against ZeniMax’s allegations.

Although the Jury found Oculus not guilty of misappropriating trade secrets, it decided in ZeniMax’s favor, finding Oculus guilty of violating a nondisclosure agreement and copyright infringement.

“The heart of this case was about whether Oculus stole ZeniMax’s trade secrets, and the jury found decisively in our favor,” an Oculus spokeswoman said in a statement. “We’re obviously disappointed by a few other aspects of today’s verdict, but we are undeterred. Oculus products are built with Oculus technology. 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.”

The spokeswoman said the company will appeal the decision.

The court decision comes just on the hills of Facebook releasing data showing that the company’s net profit more than doubled to $3.6bn in the fourth quarter.

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