Mark Zuckerberg testifies in explosive legal battle against Facebook and Oculus, as game developer seeks $US2 billion in damages


Mark Zuckerberg has appeared in court to testify against allegations that virtual reality startup Oculus, which Facebook acquired in 2014 for more than $US2 billion ($2.6 billion), was built on stolen code.

American game developer ZeniMax Media is seeking $US2 billion in damages for lost intellectual property and “trade secret misappropriation” after raising initial accusations against Oculus back in 2014.

ZeniMax Media claims the Oculus team, including chief technology officer and former ZeniMax employee John Carmack, stole VR-related source code and confidential information. It also claims Facebook acquired Oculus without doing sufficient due diligence.

Hear more about startup legal battles on The Audacity to Fail podcast

A lawyer representing Zenimax called it “one of the biggest technology heists ever” in an opening statement to the jury, Business Insider reports.

“I’m aware of the claims. I’m here because I think they’re false and I believe it’s important to testify to that,” Zuckerberg said in court.

Zuckerberg says he was introduced to Oculus through Silicon Valley heavyweight Marc Andreessen and wanted to acquire the startup to accelerate Facebook’s foray into virtual reality.

Zuckerberg added that Oculus’ VR technology was not even fully developed when Facebook bought it, Reuters reports.

But ZeniMax Media lawyer Tony Sammi hit back.

“Improving on that technology doesn’t make it yours,” Sammi said.

“If you steal my bike, paint it and put a bell on it, does that make it your bike?”

But Zuckerberg remains adamant Facebook did nothing wrong.

“It is pretty common when you announce a big deal or do something like that all kinds of people come out of the woodwork and claim that they just own some portion of the deal,” Zuckerberg said.

“Like most people in the court, I’ve never even heard of ZeniMax before. I know that our legal team would look into this and examine but they aren’t going to take a lot of my time on something they don’t think is credible.”

The trial continues and a verdict is expected after three weeks.

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Dinushi Dias is a journalist at StartupSmart and multimedia content producer. When she’s out of the office, she works on social projects with her We Love It Productions family and buddying filmmakers.