Oculus loses big, jury awards $500 million to ZeniMax

ZeniMax Media said Oculus VR infringed on its technology while developing its industry-leading goggles. A jury agreed.

Ian Sherr
Ian Sherr Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. At CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
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Watch this: Court rules against Oculus, awards $500 million to ZeniMax

Oculus may be a virtual reality company, but a jury said it owes real money.

That's the bottom line of a decision handed down in a Texas court Wednesday, in which a jury said Oculus owed $500 million to a little-known company called ZeniMax Media, whose subsidiaries make hit games like Doom, Quake and Fallout.

Palmer Luckey, Oculus's reclusive co-founder, didn't respond to a request for comment. But a spokeswoman for Oculus said the company is planning to file an appeal. "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."

James Martin/CNET

ZeniMax, in a statement, said it was pleased with the verdict. "Technology is the foundation of our business and we consider the theft of our intellectual property to be a serious matter," said Robert Altman, the company's CEO.

The decision is a blemish for the otherwise high-flying Oculus, which helped reignite people's interest in VR and led to a boom in the tech industry. Facebook bought the company for as much as $3 billion in 2014.

ZeniMax claimed Luckey stole its technology and violated a nondisclosure agreement in the earliest days of developing the Rift . He took to the stand in January to deny that claim.

Mark Zuckerberg , Facebook's CEO, also made an appearance at the trial, discussing both the merits of the lawsuit and his belief that VR has the potential to change the way we use computers.

Read the jury's verdict below:

CNET's Sean Hollister contributed to this report.

Correction, 2 p.m. PT: This story has been updated to reflect that the jury said Oculus didn't steal trade secrets, but did infringe on ZeniMax technology.
Update, 3:12 p.m. PT: Adds ZeniMax comment.

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