Following a 2014 lawsuit against Facebook, ZeniMax Media says that it is now ready to prove in court that game designer John Carmack and other employees at Oculus have stolen trade secrets and highly confidential information "including computer code" which was later used for creating the Oculus Rift headset. The trial began on January 9 while ZemiMax's lawyer Tony Sammi recently told the jury that Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus in 2014 is "one of the biggest technology heists ever."
Oculus CTO John Carmack co-founded id Software, now owned by ZeniMax. Carmack moved from id Software to Oculus in 2013, a year prior to the firm being acquired by Facebook. However, ZeniMax claims that while he was still an employee of id Software, Carmack has "designed the specifications and functionality embodied in the Rift SDK and directed its development." The company claims that after moving to Oculus in 2013, Carmack stole computer code and other trade secrets originating from his time at ZeniMax and used them to create the Oculus Rift. Furthermore, ZeniMax claims that the early Oculus Rift prototype showcased by the company's founder Palmer Luckey was a "primitive virtual reality headset," adding that Luckey "lacked the training, expertise, resources, or know-how" to create any kind of consumer-grade VR technology.
On the other hand, Carmack previously admitted that he did copy thousands of emails on a personal storage device prior to leaving ZeniMax Media, but added that he didn’t steal any code. According to Carmack, he rewrote the code used for creating the Oculus Rift from the ground up and the original code written while he was working at ZeniMax wouldn’t work in the current version of the headset anyway. ZeniMax is now seeking $2 billion in damages from Facebook, i.e. the same sum paid for Oculus back in 2014 plus an additional $800 million in employee retention payments. Moreover, ZeniMax is also accusing Oculus of "intentional destruction of evidence to cover up their wrongdoing." According to Business Insider, Mark Zuckerberg himself is scheduled to take the stand in court later today, and Oculus founder Palmer Luckey will testify later this week. More information will likely follow soon.