The Jury Is Still Out On VR Lawsuit
The three-week court trial between Facebook and video game publisher ZeniMax over alleged theft of VR intellectual property is now in its final stretch, with the case’s jury expected to deliberate the verdict through this week.
In his concluding statement, ZeniMax attorney Anthony Sammi “If they could make it, why’d they take it?”
He argued that if the information necessary to make virtual reality this viable was available in libraries and with online resources, then other companies would be developing the same technology.
Sammi asserted that the final functionality of Oculus’ code had to have come from Carmack and ZeniMax’s technology and that constituted a violation of the nondisclosure agreement that Luckey signed.
Sammi pushed for compensatory awards, arriving at a total cost of $4 billion.
Meanwhile Oculus attorney Beth Wilkinson argued that the multibillion-dollar lawsuit was driven by ZeniMax’s embarrassment, jealousy and anger, not facts.
She called ZeniMax a bunch of “sour grapes” who never valued the work that Carmack did involving virtual reality and failed to make a timely claim to the use of it.
“They’re jealous, they’re angry, and they’re embarrassed,” Wilkinson said before arguing up to $2 billion in punitive damages.
As reported previously, ZeniMax 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.
In December, Carmack said in a filing that he had been permitted to be involved with Oculus at the time under his employment agreement with ZeniMax, and had also been allowed to publicly disclose his VR research by the company.
During the trial, both Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Oculus co-founders Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe took the stand.
Zuckerberg was dismissive of the claims, insisting that “like most people in the court, I’ve never even heard of ZeniMax before”.
Luckey admitted that he used software developed by ZeniMax to show off his prototype for the Oculus Rift to potential investors but denied using the software’s underlying proprietary source code, violating an NDA he signed with ZeniMax at the time.
Iribe said that Bethesda Softworks’ president Vlatko Andonov called the Oculus team “kids” and threatened to stop then-id Software CTO John Carmack from working on anything else VR related if Oculus didn’t sign a partnership deal that gave away 15% equity to ZeniMax.
A verdict is expected within the next week.
If ZeniMax’s claims are proven true, it could prove a costly loss for Facebook and a massive blow to their endeavors in the growing VR industry.