Facebook CEO To Testify As $2 Billion VR Lawsuit Gets Underway
The court trial between Facebook and video game publisher ZeniMax over alleged theft of VR intellectual property has officially begun, with both parties issuing public statements condemning one another.
As reported last week, ZeniMax, who are pursuing US$2 billion in damages, claim that former employee John Carmack stole intellectual property when he left the company to join Oculus in 2013.
What’s more, according to ZeniMax, Facebook was aware that Oculus had stolen intellectual property for its VR headset Rift when it acquired the company in 2014.
The case, first filed in 2014, is expected to unfold over the next few weeks.
“With the start of the trial of our case in Federal District Court in Dallas against Defendants Facebook, Oculus and its management, ZeniMax and id Software welcome the opportunity to present substantial evidence of the Defendants’ misappropriation of our Virtual Reality intellectual property,” ZeniMax said in a statement.
The publisher alleges that “Oculus used ZeniMax’s hardware and software technology to create a software development kit for the Rift and to develop, modify, and tune the Rift hardware,” and that Oculus’ “face of virtual reality” Palmer Luckey “did not have the expertise or knowledge to create a viable SDK for the Rift.”
Luckey was widely lauded for his role as the founder of VR startup Oculus, even making it onto the front cover of Time magazine in 2015.
“ZeniMax and id Software are the visionary developers of breakthrough VR technology, and look forward to the vindication of our claims,” they go on to say.
Facebook and Oculus executives have publicly denied ZeniMax’s allegations, with Carmack claiming that he had been permitted to be involved with Oculus at the time under his employment agreement with ZeniMax.
Carmack even says he pitched a similar VR headset to ZeniMax, but CEO Robert Altman rejected the idea.
Facebook say that “Oculus and its founders have invested a wealth of time and money in VR because we believe it can fundamentally transform the way people interact and communicate. We’re disappointed that another company is using wasteful litigation to attempt to take credit for technology that it did not have the vision, expertise, or patience to build.”
Both Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Oculus’ Palmer Luckey will take the stand to testify later in the week.
If ZeniMax emerge victorious, it could well change the VR landscape overnight.