Facebook Loses a Copyright Case Worth 500$ Million in Damage

The US court has ordered Facebook and its two founders of Oculus virtual reality technology to pay $500m (£395m) to ZeniMax Media Inc. after losing a lawsuit on Wednesday.

The case was centered around the defection of video-game programmer John Carmack from ZeniMax, where he had designed blockbuster games Doom and Quake, to Oculus, where he was named chief technology officer in 2013.

Figure 1 By Marco Verch (Oculus Rift @ Gamescom 2014) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

A jury in Dallas found in favour of video game maker ZeniMax Media, which had claimed the VR system was stolen. The lawsuit claimed the Oculus Rift headset was developed using a code taken from ZeniMax’s sofware.

The Facebook Inc. bought the virtual reality headset maker in 2014 for $2 billion. Since then it used the allegedly stolen computer code belonging to video game developer Zenimax.

“We are pleased that the jury in our case in the US District Court in Dallas has awarded Zenimax $500m for defendants’ unlawful infringement of our copyrights and trademarks,” said Zenimax chief executive Robert Altman.

ZeniMax’s lawyer, Tony Sammi, argued during the trial that Oculus committed a “heist,” covered it up by destroying evidence and made off with “a lot of money” when it was bought out by Facebook.

Zuckerberg testified during the three-week trial, denying ZeniMax’s allegations and saying it’s common for companies to “come out of the woodwork” and make such claims after announcing big deals with a lot of money involved.

Figure 2 By Robert Scoble (Flickr: Facebook Press Conference) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

According to Los Angeles Times published report, news of Facebook’s courtroom loss did not seem to affect the company’s stock price. Facebook on Wednesday reported that in the fourth quarter it brought in $8.8 billion in revenue, of which $3.5 billion was profit — more than double than in the same period a year earlier.


Berta Balsyte

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