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Oculus VR condemns "wasteful litigation" as ZeniMax lawsuit begins

A Dallas court heard the opening statements yesterday, trial is expected to last three weeks

Oculus VR has baldly stated its case as its $2 billion lawsuit with ZeniMax Media began in Texas this week, issuing a statement calling the litigation a "wasteful...attempt to take credit for technology that it did not have the vision, expertise, or patience to build."

That statement was sent to Upload VR yesterday, the same day that the two companies' legal teams made their opening statements in a Dallas court. Oculus said it was "eager" to present its defence against ZeniMax's allegations, stating that it had "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."

The trial is expected to last for three weeks, and ZeniMax's lawyer, Tony Sammi, has informed Bloomberg that Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Oculus' parent company Facebook, will be among the live witnesses called to the stand. In addition to the size of the damage payout ZeniMax is seeking - $2 billion - the case is also notable for having made it to court at all. Lawsuits involving high-profile companies are often settled before that happens, with a handful of exceptions like Activision vs. West and Zampella.

ZeniMax opened proceedings in May 2014, claiming that Oculus CTO John Carmack had started developing technology essential to the Rift headset while still working at id Software. "It was only through the concerted efforts of Mr. Carmack, using technology developed over many years at, and owned by, ZeniMax, that Mr. Luckey was able to transform his garage-based pipe dream into a working reality," ZeniMax said at the time, in a letter to Oculus and Facebook's legal team.

Oculus immediately refuted the accusations, categorising the suit as ZeniMax's attempt to make up for a missed commercial opportunity. Indeed, Carmack had previously stated that he left ZeniMax specifically because the company had prevented his ongoing work on VR technology.

The IP suit was officially filed in Texas at the end of May 2014. In August last year, it was expanded to include specific allegations against Carmack in addition to Oculus and its founder, Palmer Luckey.

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Matthew Handrahan avatar
Matthew Handrahan: Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.
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