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ZeniMax is trying to stop Oculus from selling Rift headsets and VR games

ZeniMax is trying to stop Oculus from selling Rift headsets and VR games


Facebook may be forced to settle

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Oculus Rift
Oculus Rift
Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

ZeniMax Media is seeking an injunction against Oculus VR to prevent the Facebook subsidiary from selling its virtual reality headsets and any other product that contains copyrighted ZeniMax code, according to Reuters. ZeniMax, the parent company of game developers id Software and Bethesda Softworks, filed the request in federal court yesterday. That’s the same Dallas court that awarded ZeniMax $500 million last month when it found Oculus guilty of copyright infringement and its executives guilty of violating a non-disclosure agreement and committing false designation.

At the heart of the suit was a contentious debate around whether Oculus founder Palmer Luckey and Oculus CTO John Carmack, a former ZeniMax employee and id Software co-founder, used copyrighted ZeniMax code when developing the Rift headset. The jury found Oculus not guilty with regards to misappropriation of trade secrets, as ZeniMax had alleged in its original $4 billion claim.

ZeniMax may be trying to force Facebook into a licensing deal

However, the jury did find Luckey guilty of violating a ZeniMax NDA he signed when he collaborated with Carmack, then still an id employee, to demo an early Rift prototype back in 2012. The jury also found Luckey and Oculus’ former CEO Brendan Iribe guilty of misleading the public as to the origin of the Rift, which ZeniMax claims could not have been created without the expertise of Carmack and its legally protected code. Oculus remains committed to appealing the verdict, and a spokesperson for the company reiterated its position to Reuters calling the outcome of the trial “"legally flawed and factually unwarranted."

It’s unclear if ZeniMax’s injunction, if granted, would limit all sales of the Rift headset itself. Still, the injunction would almost certainly certainly affect a large number of Rift games and titles for Samsung’s Gear VR headset, which was developed in partnership with Oculus. ZeniMax claims portions of its code are contained in Oculus’ software development kit, which third-party developers have used to build out the Rift’s library of available games, as well a number of other tools Oculus providers to game makers. So restrictions on the use of any portion of that code could sweep up a large portion of the Rift and Gear VR’s library. If Oculus’ appeal fails, Facebook may be forced into a licensing agreement to continue its VR operations.