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Complex business litigation ends with bang: $500 million in damages

Although they asked for eight times that amount, the half a billion in damages that ZeniMax Media was awarded by a jury in a federal trial last week was welcomed, with the company's chairman telling reporters in the wake of the case that, "We appreciate the jury's finding."

At the same time, California-based Facebook, which was the defendant in the case, chose to deemphasize the matter, stressing instead its generally strong revenues and upbeat business forecast looking forward. The company's CEO said following the trial that, "The verdict is nonmaterial to our business."

A company utterance like that following a $500 million slap certainly speaks volumes about the stature, clout and confidence of the world's preeminent social media network.

The just-concluded business litigation centrally involved a triad of issues focused on intellectual property infringement, the alleged breach of a non-disclosure agreement and a claim alleging trade secret violations.

Those matters all arose in connection with the use of ZeniMax video games in the highly popular Rift headset made by Oculus (a Facebook subsidiary). An Oculus founder previously worked with the game company.

ZeniMax contended that the executive breached a confidentially agreement he had signed with the company when he moved over to Oculus.

The jury agreed with that claim. It also found Oculus liable for infringing ZeniMax copyrights and trademarks applicable to game software, while being unmoved on the claim alleging the pilfering of trade secrets.

The Rift headset is rapidly growing in popularity. The device provides users with a so-called virtual-reality experience when they interact with three-dimensional videos and games.

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