Facebook payout in Oculus copyright dispute halved to $250 million

Oculus Rift on floor

A U.S. District Judge has ruled that Facebook must pay $250 million to Zenimax Media for using stolen computer code, half of the amount it was ordered to pay in February 2017.

According to Bloomberg, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade affirmed the jury’s original award of $200 million for breach of contract and $50 million for copyright infringement, while wiping out the additional $250 million. Kinkeade also rejected Zenimax’s request for a ban on Rift sales.

Back in 2014, Zenimax sued Facebook shortly after it acquired virtual reality startup Oculus. Zenimax claimed that Oculus founder Palmer Luckey, Zenimax’s id Software developer John Carmack and other former Zenimax employees stole intellectual property from the company to use in developing the Rift VR headset.

During the trial, Zenimax alleged that Carmack didn’t possess the knowledge or expertise to design the Rift on his own, thus leading him to steal its intellectual property.

Oculus, meanwhile, contended that the copyright infringement wasn’t “substantial” and called for damages to be thrown out. Oculus claimed that only seven lines of computer code from Oculus software were copied from Zenimax, out of “approximately 42 billion lines” presented as evidence during the trial.

In a statement, Zenimax said it was pleased with the $250 million win, although it expressed disappointment that the sum was half of what was originally ruled. “Based on strong evidentiary record, the jury in this case found that ZeniMax was seriously harmed by the defendants’ theft of ZeniMax’s breakthrough VR technology and its verdict reflected that harm,” said Zenimax.

Facebook vice president and deputy general counsel Paul Grewal said the new ruling “was a positive step toward a fair resolution” and that the company will be looking to appeal the remaining claims. “We’ve said from day one the ZeniMax case is deeply flawed, and today the court agreed,” Grewal added. “Our commitment to Oculus is unwavering and we will continue to invest in building the future of VR.”

Source: Bloomberg