ZeniMax Media is seeking an injunction to stop Oculus from unauthorized use of its copyrighted code in a move that could prevent sales of a significant number of games for the Rift and the Gear VR headset. The company filed an injunction request with a Dallas federal court earlier this week, not long after the same court ruled against the Facebook-owned Oculus and ordered it to pay $500 million in damages to ZeniMax for infringing its copyrights. Oculus already announced its plans to appeal the decision while ZeniMax continues to consider further legal actions it can take against the company.
If granted, the injunction would likely do significant damage to Oculus whose product is still far from mainstream adoption and its adoption rates are heavily reliant on the sales of new games. Likewise, the disputed code has already been utilized by Oculus on many occasions, which is why this latest turn of events could also hurt Samsung Electronics and the Gear VR headset that was developed with Oculus. Experts in intellectual property law claim that a potential injunction would be so devastating for Oculus that Facebook would be put under immense pressure to initiate an out-of-court settlement, which is something that seemed improbable until now.
The initial case was based on the fact that Oculus hired former ZeniMax employee John Carmack as its Chief Technology Officer who helped develop the technology powering the Rift. However, ZeniMax claims that the technology in question was developed by Carmack while he was still working for its subsidiary and even accused the founder of Oculus Palmer Luckey of breaching a non-disclosure agreement while recruiting Carmack. While the jury dismissed the accusations of Oculus stealing trade secrets that ZeniMax also laid out, Oculus was found guilty of unauthorized use of the disputed code and Luckey was deemed liable for breaching a non-disclosure agreement while he was communicating with Carmack in 2012. It remains to be seen whether the federal court will agree to grant an injunction against Oculus, but that scenario seems likely given how ZeniMax already managed to prove that the Facebook-owned VR company is using its copyrighted code without permission.