Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg set to testify in $2bn Oculus lawsuit

17 Jan 2017

An ambitious Oculus Rift demo at the VRLA Expo, Los Angeles. Image: betto rodrigues/Shutterstock

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is to testify in a lawsuit that alleges that Oculus, the VR start-up his company acquired two years ago for $2bn, was built on stolen technology.

ZeniMax is seeking $2bn in damages against Facebook and is accusing Oculus executives of knowingly stealing software and trade secrets by hiring games guru and Oculus CTO John Carmack and five of his employees from ZeniMax subsidiary id Software.

Carmack is best known as the mastermind behind games like Doom and Quake.

ZeniMax alleges that Carmack violated his employee agreement with the company by sharing confidential information that Oculus then used as the basis for its software.

During opening remarks in the case on 10 January, ZeniMax lawyer Tony Sammi described the Facebook acquisition of Oculus in March 2014 – for $2bn and an additional $800m in employee retention payouts – as “one of the biggest data heists ever”.

Facebook denies the claims and says they are without merit, alleging that ZeniMax only filed the lawsuit because the entertainment company passed over an opportunity to invest in Oculus before Facebook did.

Zuckerberg to take the stand in Oculus IP trial

ZeniMax is understood to be planning to present substantial evidence to back up its case.

It claims that, while he was an employee at id Software, Carmack designed the specifications and functionality embodied in the Rift SDK.

ZeniMax is also claiming that, without Carmack, Oculus CEO and founder Palmer Luckey lacked the expertise or know-how to create commercially viable VR technology.

Carmack is understood to have told the court last week that the charges were “ridiculous and absurd”.

It is understood that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will take the stand today, followed by Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey.

Oculus Rift image by betto rodrigues via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years