Game company seeks to block Facebook from using virtual reality code

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By Jan Wolfe

<span class="articleLocation”>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.



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