The virtual reality headset maker that Facebook Inc. bought in 2014 for $2 billion used stolen computer code, a jury said in awarding $500 million to ZeniMax Media Inc.
The case was over the Oculus Rift, the device that has put the social media giant at the forefront of the virtual reality boom.
Wednesday’s verdict in Dallas federal court is a rebuke to Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, who isn’t a defendant but who told jurors in his first-ever courtroom testimony that it was important for him to be there because the claims by ZeniMax were “false.” An Oculus spokeswoman said the company will appeal.
ZeniMax claimed it was responsible for key breakthroughs in the development of software and hardware for the headset, only to be betrayed when one of its star employees joined with two other entrepreneurs and purloined ZeniMax’s intellectual property for their own startup, Oculus VR.
Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus gave it a head start against Microsoft Corp., Sony Corp., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and others competing for a piece of the virtual reality market that’s forecast to exceed $84 billion in sales in 2020. Facebook began shipping the ski-goggle-like Rift for $599 in March.