ZeniMax Media Inc. is seeking an additional $2 billion in punitive damages from Facebook and Oculus on top of the $2 billion requested in compensation. A jury will give a verdict on the $4 billion lawsuit this Monday, January 30.
The legal battle between ZeniMax and Oculus came to a halt last week when both parties presented their closing arguments.
The two VR developers sustained their claims over the intellectual property of the Oculus Rift headset.
Many more details came to light throughout the week, including statements from former Oculus employees and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Robert Altman, chief of ZeniMax, also appeared before the court.
What is ZeniMax’s argument?
Anthony Sammi, head lawyer for the plaintiffs ZeniMax Media Inc., claims their subsidiary id Software was instrumental in developing “trade secrets” that made the Oculus Rift headset a reality.
Said secrets include distortion correction, chromatic aberration, gravity orientation, predictive tracking, HMD view bypass, and others according to UploadVR.
John Carmack, co-founder of id Software, was the link between the company’s IP and Oculus’ Palmer Luckey, who later went on to present the Rift as an original creation. Facebook would acquire Oculus in 2014 for around $3 billion.
Sammi claimed also cited negligence, collusion and destruction of evidence as supporting arguments to demand punitive damages and compensatory awards. The figures add up to $4 billion.
What does Facebook’s Oculus have to say?
The VR company sustains that ZeniMax had its shot with them in the early days, but they refused to make a deal because they did not want to work with the “clowns” who ran the startup.
Wilkinson also quoted CEO Robert Altman saying virtual reality was “unproven technology that has failed over and over again,” a testament to the firm’s real views and beliefs on what they claim they created.
“THEY’RE JEALOUS, THEY’RE ANGRY, AND THEY’RE EMBARRASSED,” said Oculus’ attorney Beth Wilkinson in her closing remarks.
Oculus also questioned ZeniMax’s expertise in the field and their approach to the market, both of which would have doomed their technology to fail if they had wanted to build it.
The plaintiff’s legal counsel rose a similar question regarding the defendants’ proceedings, asking Oculus if they could make the Rift without id Software technology, then why to steal it from them.
Who loses in the end?
Regardless of the outcome of this lawsuit, the VR industry seems to be hurting as a result. ZeniMax’s eagerness for cashing out quickly may confirm their original concerns: the technology is just not fit to be a hit, or at least yet.
The launch of Microsoft’s affordable headsets later in the year could inject some much-needed life into the sector, once partners of the biggest tech companies in the world release products under $300.
A judge at the Dallas courthouse will pronounce their verdict on the ZeniMax vs. Oculus case on Monday. The jury is currently deliberating and considering the late requests for punitive damages sought after by the plaintiff.