Update: An Oculus spokesperson reached out to us after this story was published to issue an official statement: “We’re eager to present our case in court. 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.”
We will continue to provide updates as they are received.
Original: ZeniMax Media v. Oculus VR is one of the first major legal disputes to happen in our young new industry. Following the massive Consumer Electronics Shows (CES) in Las Vegas, NV, the spotlight now turns to the Lone Star State as the court trial is set to start today, Monday, January 9th 2017, in Dallas, TX, according to Bloomberg.
In our previous report of the lawsuit, we explained that ZeniMax alleges the Rift was created with stolen technology sourced from ZeniMax employees. You might remember that, quite famously, John Carmack joined the Oculus team as CTO in 2013. Carmack is the co-founder of id Software, a company acquired by ZeniMax Media in 2009. His relationship with the VR company (namely Palmer Luckey) and the creation of the Oculus Rift is at the heart of the allegations.
Without help from ZeniMax employees, the company states that “there would not have been a viable Rift product.”
The actual lawsuit itself was first filed by ZeniMax in 2014, shortly after Facebook acquired Oculus VR for $2 billion. ZeniMax claims that Carmack was still a ZeniMax Media employee while he was closely involved with the creation of the VR company’s flagship headset, the Oculus Rift.
In a previous statement, an Oculus representative explained that “this complaint filed by ZeniMax is one-sided and conveys only ZeniMax’s interpretation of the story. We continue to believe this case has no merit, and we will address all of ZeniMax’s allegations in court.”
The Rift released last year in March at a price point of $599, with the $199 Touch controllers releasing last month in December. In the lawsuit, ZeniMax is seeking $2 billion in damages, which just so happens to be roughly the same price Facebook paid for the VR startup almost 3 years ago.
ZeniMax’s lawyer is Tony Sammi and the lead attorney for Oculus and Facebook is Beth Wilkinson. Live witnesses, including Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg are expected to be called in the trial, according to Sammi.
The trial is expected to last approximately three weeks and is officially called ZeniMax Media Inc. v. Oculus VR Inc., 3:14-cv-01849, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas).