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Facebook Ordered to Pay $500 Million in Oculus Lawsuit

A jury ordered Facebook to pay $500 million in damages to ZeniMax due to theft of intellectual property on Wednesday.

Oculus said it would appeal the briefing, though we're not entirely sure what will happen to the Oculus Rift, or whether the case will have any impact on sales.

Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg told CNBC's Julia Boorstin that she was "disappointed in certain elements of the decision".

In addition to expert testimony finding both literal and non-literal copying, Oculus programmers themselves admitted using ZeniMax's copyrighted code (one saying he cut and pasted it into the Oculus SDK), and Brendan Iribe, in writing, requested a license for the "source code shared by Carmack" they needed for the Oculus Rift.

Despite (literally) kickstarting the modern virtual reality craze, and being bought for $2 billion by Facebook, Oculus VR has not been having a good time of it lately. ZeniMax is the parent company of id Software, whose co-founder John Carmack is now CTO of Oculus. If true, that would've put the company in an awkward position, with Oculus owing its success entirely to ZeniMax.

The lawsuit revolved around whether Luckey really was the inventor of Oculus Rift or just stole the ideas from ZeniMax.

At the heart of the case was whether key technologies used in the virtual reality headset were stolen from ZeniMax Media, the games publisher behind developers Bethesda, Arkane, and id Software. The company, Luckey, and Iribe were also found liable for false designation regarding misuse of certain ZeniMax trademarks. Instead, it ruled that Luckey, who was working as a contractor for Zenimax before starting the Kickstarter for the Oculus Rift headset, violated his non-disclosure agreement, according to a Polygon report.

In its 2016 amended complaint, ZeniMax alleged Carmack "copied thousands of documents from a computer at ZeniMax to a USB storage device", and that after "Carmack's employment with ZeniMax was terminated, he returned to ZeniMax's premises to take a customised tool for developing VR Technology belonging to ZeniMax that itself is part of ZeniMax's VR technology". Oculus CTO John Carmack, who previously worked for ZeniMax and was accused of stealing code and destroying evidence, is not personally liable for any damages.

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