Bethesda and Facebook Reach Settlement on Massive VR Lawsuit

Fallout's Vault Boy gives VR a thumbs up

Bethesda-owned ZeniMax and Facebook reached a settlement over litigation involving VR; the settlement comes after ZeniMax filed a lawsuit in 2017 against Facebook for using its code with the company's Oculus VR headset.

Here's some background on the case: former Oculus CEO Palmer Luckey and current Oculus CTO John Carmack signed an NDA to work on VR headset prototypes for ZeniMax. They eventually left their agreements with the company, owned by Bethesda, to work with Facebook on the Oculus headset. However, they took the code they developed for ZeniMax with them to Oculus and used it. ZeniMax called this an act of theft and copyright infringement and brought a lawsuit against Facebook for $2 billion. Facebook rejected any wrongdoing and stated that ZeniMax was only filing suit because they passed on a partnership with Oculus before Facebook bought it. The case went to a Federal District Court in Dallas in 2017, with the jury finding in favor of ZeniMax. The court initially decided that Oculus should pay $500 million in damages, but then cut that amount in half later on. Both companies then appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, where the appeal was pending.

Related: Fallout 76 Backlash Could Lead to a Class Action Lawsuit

However, it seems that both companies have agreed to settle the matter once and for all. Bethesda announced that ZeniMax and Facebook reached a settlement for an undisclosed amount. This seems to bring an end to the conflict, especially considering the following statement by Robert Altman, ZeniMax’s Chairman and CEO:

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.

Xbox One Controller Oculus Rift VR Headset

Interestingly enough, when ZeniMax's lawyer questioned Carmack during the initial trial, he openly admitted to taking thousands of documents and code with him when he left his contract, even referring to his act as "stealing." Carmack had no problem expressing some regret over his actions. He also admitted to copying emails, too, but he didn't find fault with that because those emails only contained "snippets of source code." Later in his testimony, though, he suggested the emails may have had attachments with full lines of source code.

Now, though, the matter seems resolved with both parties agreeing to the settlement, hopefully making them both happy. Although it's unlikely the amount of the settlement will ever be disclosed, it would be interesting to know how much ZeniMax ended up with after the fact. It certainly seems like the Bethesda-owned company was in the right all along.

More: Oculus Rift Creator is No Longer Part of Facebook

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