ZeniMax Media is suing Facebook and its subsidiary Oculus for $2 billion over allegedly stolen virtual reality technology. They are accusing Oculus of using stolen technology in the creation of the Oculus VR headset. The first day of the trial was on January 17, 2017, and the court battle is expected to last around three weeks.
ZeniMax Wants to Be Compensated $2 Billion for Its Alleged Stolen VR Intellectual Property
ZeniMax, a media company that develops and publishes video games, claims that their former employee, John Carmack, used their technology without permission when designing the Oculus. He worked for them from 2009 to 2013. The company also acquired Carmack’s business iD Software in 2009 for $405 million. The man resigned from ZeniMax in November 2013 to work exclusively for Oculus.
What makes this situation messier is he was working for both companies before the official resignation. He even worked on the virtual reality version of Doom 3 for Oculus VR a year before leaving ZeniMax. The latter suspects that Carmack copied thousands of documents from a computer at the company onto a USB storage device. He then shared that information with Palmer Luckey, one of the founders of Oculus.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, declared he’s confident that Oculus products are based on its own technology. He doesn’t think the company stole the technology. In fact, he doesn’t even consider it a possibility:
“The idea that Oculus products are based on someone else’s technology is just wrong.”
Zuckerberg announced he had never even heard of ZeniMax before. The social media mogul also disregards the possibility of the technology being stolen because:
“It is pretty common when you announce a big deal or do something that all kinds of people just kind of come out of the woodwork and claim that they just own some portion of the deal.”
ZeniMax is the parent company of the well-known video game publisher Bethesda and the video game developer iD Software. They have some big hits in the video game industry, such as Fallout and The Elder Scrolls.
The evidence that ZeniMax presented to prove Oculus misappropriated their VR intellectual property includes intentional destruction of evidence by the defendant. Additional proof consists of stolen confidential information, trade secrets, and computer code.
More Background on ZeniMax’s Dispute with Facebook and Oculus
According to Gamespot, Facebook bought Oculus for $4 billion in 2014. And the dispute isn’t new. ZeniMax sued Oculus months after the announcement that Facebook would acquire the business.
They accused Oculus of using important parts of their technology in creating a virtual reality headset. The company later included Facebook in the legal battle because they bought Oculus.
Although it’s common for tech companies or developers to fight over ownership rights, it’s rare that this type of dispute makes it to a jury trial like this one did. The dispute between ZeniMax, Oculus, and Facebook has reached the federal court.
ZeniMax’s lawyer questioned Zuckerberg about how quickly he closed the deal with Oculus to acquire the company. If he can prove Facebook’s CEO was negligent in his purchase of a company that has stolen technology, then his client has a better chance of winning the case.
Zuckerberg believes that making fast deals in the technology industry is essential, otherwise, another company will snap up your opportunity.
Is Oculus Innocent?
Zuckerberg probably shouldn’t have as much confidence as he does that Oculus technology wasn’t stolen because he didn’t personally develop it. He has no way of knowing 100% whether or not Carmack wrongfully used ZeniMax’s technology. It will have to be a battle sorted out by the judicial system.
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