A years-long saga ended this past Wednesday when Facebook-owned Oculus settled a lawsuit with Zenimax Media regarding allegedly stolen code that was later used in the Oculus Rift headset.
This settlement comes after a ruling by a jury last year that Oculus owes Zenimax Media $500 million for stealing code that was later used in Oculus’ products. This judgment amount was later halved to $250 million and the final settlement amount was undisclosed.
A Yahoo Finance reports quotes a spokesperson for Facebook commenting that the company was, “…pleased to put this behind us and continue building the future of VR.”
Speaking on behalf of Zenimax Media, company CEO Robert Altman said: “While we dislike litigation, we will always vigorously defend against any infringement or misappropriation of our intellectual property by third parties.”
Founded in July 2012, Oculus VR was an early pioneer in the space but the court case alleged that their pioneering efforts were largely stolen. Part of a niche community that looked into head-mounted displays as a future medium for games, among other things, id Software’s own John Carmack fell in love with Luckey’s early prototypes and left Zenimax Media to join the young Oculus team. This is where the controversy kicks off as Zenimax alleges that Carmack took valuable intellectual property along with him in his transition to Oculus VR.
Facebook’s foray into virtual reality is a continual source of controversy and intrigue in the industry ever since the company made the shock announcement that it was buying Oculus, the headset maker founded by Palmer Luckey, a man no stranger to controversy himself.
Having left the company before the lawsuit concluded, Luckey was ordered by the jury to pay $50 million while another former Oculus executive, Brendan Iribe, was ordered to pay $150 million. In total, Zenimax Media has sought $4 billion in damages relating to the theft of the code. The case was no small deal for Facebook, either, as company CEO Mark Zuckerberg was even called upon to defend his company.
For its part, Oculus has gone on to become one of the pillars of VR and a central part of Facebook’s plan to dominate media in the future. The company has not shied away from its bold VR ambitions and is unlikely to back down anytime soon.
Now with this behind them we expect that Facebook will blaze ahead with many of its projects related to Oculus. And 2019 is already shaping up to be an amazing year for VR. With rumors of the next PSVR unit on the horizon, as well as an effort from Microsoft, it would seem that Oculus couldn’t get their ducks in order soon enough. And, even though this settles it with regard to Oculus and Facebook, there are some other things lurking on the horizon so the saga isn’t completely spent for those who love following corporate intrigue. But, for now, the future seems to be squarely set on the future for Oculus and its parent company Facebook.
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- December 15, 2018