Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, is set to appear in court today, January 17, to defend his social media company and its subsidiary Oculus against claims they stole virtual reality technology.
The accusations come from ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Fallout publisher Bethesda and Doom developer Id Software. ZeniMax is suing Oculus and Facebook for $2 billion, the same figure Facebook bought Oculus for in 2014.
According to the BBC, Zuckerberg will argue that “ZeniMax was slow to appreciate the potential of VR–and that it was Oculus’ own work that made it the valuable technology it is today.”
An Oculus spokesperson told the BBC, “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.”
ZeniMax’s argument revolves around revered game programmer John Carmack, who had worked for ZeniMax from 2009, when the corporation acquired his studio Id Software for $405 million. In November 2013, he resigned to join Oculus full-time.
But for several months before his departure from Zenimax, Carmack was effectively working for both companies. A year prior to this, he was also helping build a virtual reality version of Doom 3 for Oculus VR.
ZeniMax alleges Carmack “copied thousands of documents from a computer at ZeniMax to a USB storage device.”
“He never returned those files or all copies of them after his employment with ZeniMax was terminated,” states the lawsuit (via Game Informer). Zenimax lawyer Tony Sammi has said the case is “one of the biggest technology heists ever.”
In a statement to Ars Technica, the Id and Bethesda parent said, “ZeniMax and Id Software welcome the opportunity to present substantial evidence of the Defendants’ misappropriation of our Virtual Reality (VR) intellectual property.
“That evidence includes the theft of trade secrets and highly confidential information, including computer code. ZeniMax will also present evidence of the Defendants’ intentional destruction of evidence to cover up their wrongdoing. ZeniMax and Id Software are the visionary developers of breakthrough VR technology and look forward to the vindication of our claims.”
Carmack testified last week, reportedly calling the case “absurd.” His comments reflect those of previous statements by Facebook and Oculus, who previously branded ZeniMax’s arguments as “ridiculous.” They later said it was ZeniMax’s attempt to rectify a “massive missed opportunity.”
The case is taking place in a Dallas, Texas court, and it is expected to last three weeks.
Disclosure: Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of GameSpot parent company CBS, is a member of the ZeniMax board of directors.