ZeniMax’s cheeky attempt to shut down the Oculus Rift is bad news for Facebook’s VR plans

Following its court victory against Oculus earlier this month, in which it was awarded $500m for violation of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and copyright infringement, ZeniMax has now filed an injunction demanding that all Oculus Rift products using the infringing code are removed from sale.

It’s beginning to seem possible that ZeniMax may be running on pure spite and over-ambition. After asking for $4bn in the earlier lawsuit, the new injunction would essentially grind Oculus sales to a halt. Though headsets would potentially still be sellable, without the software they wouldn’t be particularly useful to own.

According to Upload VR, the filing demands that Oculus be: “…permanently enjoined, on a worldwide basis, from using…any of the Copyrighted Materials, including but not limited to (i) system software for Oculus PC (including the Oculus PC SDK); (ii) system software for Oculus Mobile (including the Oculus Mobile SDK); (iii) Oculus integration with the Epic Games Unreal Engine; and (iv) Oculus integration with the Unity Technologies Unity Game Engine.”

Of course, given ZeniMax’s already somewhat overshot ambition, there’s a pretty good chance this injunction goes nowhere. Given that a jury ruled no trade secrets had been stolen by Oculus, it’s not unreasonable to believe that the company could face such an extreme punishment as a halt of all sales.

Speaking to Ars Technica, Joshua Rich, a partner at IP law firm McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP, explained: “Had they prevailed on the trade secrets claim, [ZeniMax] would have been in an extremely strong position for an injunction. Here, I think it’s a relatively weak argument.”

Rich went on to say that the best ZeniMax is likely to get out of this injunction is forcing Oculus to replace any code that bears a similarity to that which violated the NDA. Doing so would likely rely on bringing in a team of programmers with no knowledge of the old code and keeping them completely separate from any form of it.

Images courtesy of Oculus

It’s no sales shutdown, but such a code replacement would still be a big dent to Facebook’s Oculus plans.  As it has to fight this litigation, on top of appealing the former judgement, it seems to be falling further and further behind in where it hoped to be in the virtual reality market.

Given further reports from Business Insider earlier this month that the company is struggling with low demand for Oculus headsets, Facebook better hope that the long game they have set out for VR pays off.  They certainly have the money to keep it ticking along for now, but if they keep hitting road blocks like this, the competition is going to keep showing them up.

It is likely that the injunction will fail, but, if not, Oculus may well and truly be on the ropes. With the rise of Playstation VR and the strength of HTC’s Vive, the previous forerunners are starting to look less and less confident as the future of the medium.

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Apple’s co-founder Steve “Woz” Wozniak has found himself a new gig; Woz has joined the hologram emoji company, Mojiit, as an adviser.

In his role as advisor to Mojiit, the legendary entrepreneur and engineer will help assemble a world-class engineering team in addition to bringing investors and partnerships to the newly launched startup. Wozniak will also serve as mentor to Mojiit founder, Jeremy Greene.

“I’m thrilled to join Mojiit as an advisor,” said Wozniak. “Jeremy is a natural leader, the company is groundbreaking, it’s going to change the ecommerce space, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Created in 2017, Mojiit is the latest startup technology venture from Greene. The company’s tech essentially enables users to project and share 3D hologram emojis via smartphones.

The platform turns users into emojis by scanning their face, which can then be sent to loved ones and friends. Once a Mojiit message is received, it will map the area where it is received and place the Mojiit hologram there in real time, so it works in a similar way to Pokemon Go.

“Steve is one of the best and brilliant engineers in the entire world. But outside of that, he’s a wonderful man,” said Greene. “There isn’t anyone I’d want to be in business with more than this guy. He’s a legend. Who better to learn from than the guy who created the computer?”

Image courtesy of Nichollas Harrison. Featured image courtesy of Mojiit

In addition to consumer use, businesses of all kinds can tap into hologram emojis with Mojiit’s technology.

Mojiit investors already  include NFL alum Ed Reed, and the company was able to raise a total of $1 million in its seed round of funding.

Alongside the appointment of Woz, Entourage and Ballers producer Rob Weiss recently joined the company as a creative director.

“It’s exciting to expand beyond television and film to digital platforms,” said Weiss. “Hologram technology brings incredible opportunity to entertainment and media. I’m thrilled to be leading creative at Mojiit.”