Oculus Won't Stay Down, Seeks New Trial in $500 Million Zenimax Case

Warning: Legal terms like 'spoliation testimony' and 'adverse inference instruction' are used.


The blood hasn't been fully cleaned off the combatants from the $500 million jury award Zenimax was granted in its court case against Oculus, and already the VR headset maker is jumping into the legal ring again with a motion for a new trial.

The Oculus motion lays out several grounds for its request to the court in the Northern District of Texas, mostly centering on the issues that the damage awards for each count were excessive, and weren't supported by the evidence. It also claims that "spoliation testimony and adverse inference instruction tainted the jury." 

The motion also said that the verdict on the copyright infringement claim against Oculus, CEO Brendan Iribe, Palmer Luckey, and John Carmack is based on "unreliable and prejudicial expert testimony," presumably from the expert witness that Carmack lambasted on Facebook after the verdict. This also contributed to an "irreconcilably inconsistent" jury verdict.

Another motion, reported by Law360, states that the court should not have allowed the case against Oculus since Zenimax waited to long to file its claim. Carmack left id in 2013 to join Oculus as its CTO, and Facebook purchased Oculus in 2014 for an estimated $2+ billion. That is roughly the time that Zenimax's legal rumblings started.

The case centered on claims that Carmack took Zenimax property with him when he joined Oculus, and that both he and Luckey violated NDAs over virtual reality IP discussions. Oculus and Carmack were eventually cleared of theft, but a finding that Luckey had violated NDAs and how much proprietary data was used by Oculus accounted for the bulk of the hefty jury award. 

After the verdict, Zenimax filed for a permanent injunction to stop the sale of the Oculus Rift, but no court action has yet been taken. Also, since the verdict, Luckey has left Facebook, although whether it is related to the lawsuit or some of his other activities was unclear.

In a separate unrelated case, Carmack has sued Zenimax for $22.5 million as the remainder he is owed from the company's purchase of id Software. The case claims Zenimax is withholding a final payment to Carmack as "sour grapes" for his leaving id and causing the subsequent legal brouhaha.

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