It’s the end of four years old battle: Zenimax announced yesterday it has agreed to settle its litigation against Facebook and Oculus for “for the unlawful misappropriation of its breakthrough VR technology that Zenimax had developed,” the announcement read.
Zenimax didn’t disclose the terms of the settlement, but the company’s chairman and CEO Robert Altman commented: “We are pleased that a settlement has been reached and are fully satisfied by the outcome. While we dislike litigation, we will always vigorously defend against any infringement or misappropriation of our intellectual property by third parties.”
The legal battle between Zenimax and Oculus started in May 2014, two months after the VR company was acquired by Facebook. Having been unsuccessful in its attempts to resolve the matter amicably with Oculus, Zenimax decided to take it to court. Back then, the suit claimed that Oculus and its co-founder Palmer Luckey illegally misappropriated Zenimax trade secrets regarding VR technology. Former Id Software (owned by Zenimax) employee John Carmack was particularly targeted by the lawsuit, with Zenimax saying he developed key VR technology for Oculus prior to his resignation from Id Software.
A couple of months later, Oculus fought back, claiming that Zenimax was just attempting to cash-in on Facebook’s acquisition of the VR studio, with the firm adding that “there is not a line of Zenimax code or any of its technology in any Oculus VR product.” Facebook and Oculus then tried to put an end to the lawsuit, unsuccessfully, with a preliminary trial date set for August 2016 and further accusations of theft and deception added around that time.
In January 2017, Mark Zuckerberg gave his testimony during the jury trial and denied all accusations that Oculus stole VR technology from Zenimax. In February of that year, the jury awarded Zenimax $500m (which was reduced to $250m in June 2018) after they found Oculus violated a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). However, Oculus was found not guilty of stealing trade secrets to create the Rift headset.
Zenimax kept on pushing through though, trying to block Oculus Rift sales, which was rejected by the judge in June 2018.
Other legal shenanigans around the case also included Carmack trying to strike back in March 2017, suing Zenimax for allegedly missing payments and asking for a whopping $22.5m.
In May 2017, Zenimax also claimed that former Id Software execs Carmack and Matt Hooper devised a mobile VR strategy that ultimately led to the creation of the Samsung Gear VR while still working at Id's offices in the summer of 2013.