Facebook-owend virtual reality firm Oculus has been at the centre of a lawsuit since ZeniMax (parent company of iD Software, the studio that created Doom) accused now Oculus CTO John Carmack of taking intellectual property with him when he left iD. Tuesday saw Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg take to the stand, and on Thursday it was Oculus founder Palmer Luckey’s turn.
According to Bloomberg, Luckey denied ZeniMax’s claims that he violated a non-disclosure agreement he signed after the convention that barred him from sharing secrets about how the device works. He said that in showing the headset to the investors he relied only on “executable code” that didn’t reveal the underlying proprietary source code. He said: “I didn’t take confidential code. I ran it and demonstrated it through the headset. It is not true I took the code.”
The entirety of the lawsuit challenges Oculus’ origin story, claiming that Luckey lacked the expertise to develop the virtual reality technology. Gizmodo reported that part of a heated exchange between Luckey and the prosecution focused on his lack of college degree, while Facebook’s lawyers emphasised his hobbyist interests and electronics tinkering from the age of nine.
In 2014, Carmack stated that ZeniMax owns the code he wrote while working there but "they don’t own VR". According to Oculus, Luckey sent Carmack a protoype of the Rift headset in 2012, and demoed a ported version of Doom 3 for it, before iD to join the company in 2013.
This was the first public appearance for the Oculus founder since it emerged that he was funding ‘shitposting’ groups online which were pushing anti-Hilary Clinton memes online. Luckey had donated $10,000 to a pro-Trump group called Nimble America that has a stated purpose to prove that "shitposting is powerful and meme magic is real". In light of the controversy, Luckey skipped a large Oculus event in October.
It is expected that former Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe will testify soon and that a jury verdict could occur as soon as next week.