Zenimax trying to stop Oculus using its code

Written by on February 24, 2017 in News with 0 Comments

REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

(Reuters) – Video game publisher ZeniMax Media Inc., which earlier this month won a $500 million verdict against Facebook Inc.’s Oculus virtual reality unit for unauthorized copying of computer code, has asked a federal judge to block Oculus from using the code in its products.

ZeniMax made its request for an injunction in papers filed on Thursday in federal court in Dallas. It was the same court where jurors on Feb. 1 issued the verdict against Oculus and its founders Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe.

Tera Randall, a spokeswoman for Oculus, said the company was continuing with its plan to ask the judge to set aside the verdict, which she called “legally flawed and factually unwarranted.”

Lawyers for ZeniMax declined to comment.

If granted, the injunction could limit the number of games available for sale for Oculus’ Rift VR headset. Such a move would be a blow to a product still in its infancy and on which Facebook has made a big bet for the future.

Oculus has already made the disputed code available to companies that develop games, and it is embedded in many of the games available for use on the Rift, as well as Samsung Electronics Co’s Gear VR, a smartphone-compatible device developed through a partnership with Oculus.

Mark Romeo, an Irvine, California-based intellectual property lawyer not involved in the case, said the potential disruption from an injunction, if granted, would put an “incredible amount of pressure on Facebook to enter into some sort of settlement.”

The litigation stemmed from Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey’s 2012 correspondence with video game designer John Carmack, well-known for creating the Doom series. Carmack, who at the time was employed by a ZeniMax subsidiary, subsequently agreed to help develop software for the Rift. In 2013 he left ZeniMax and joined Oculus as its chief technology officer.

ZeniMax sued Oculus in 2014, less than two months after Facebook paid $3 billion for the start-up, claiming Carmack developed crucial Rift technology while he was a ZeniMax employee. ZeniMax also argued that Luckey breached a non-disclosure agreement.

The case culminated in a three-week trial in which ZeniMax sought $6 billion in damages. Jurors rejected a claim by ZeniMax that its trade secrets were stolen, but it found that Oculus used the copyrighted code without permission and violated the non-disclosure agreement.

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; editing by Richard Chang and Cynthia Osterman)

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