Zuckerberg testified in court today for the ZeniMax/Oculus trial

Facebook CEO: 'Like most people in the court, I've never even heard of ZeniMax before.'

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Facebook CEO and chairman Mark Zuckerberg testified in court today that Facebook had only one weekend to ensure it was legally able to acquire Oculus for $2 billion in 2014.

The case between ZeniMax and Oculus centers on allegations that Oculus built its Rift VR headset based in some part on intellectual property stolen by Oculus CTO John Carmack following his departure from id Software, owned by ZeniMax.

Proceedings began last week, and consisted of opening arguments. Testimonies are in full swing.

Reporters from outlets including Bloomberg and Gizmodo swarmed the courtroom to serve as voyeurs. Among them was New York Times editor Mike Isaac, who tweeted updates. After he was proscribed from further live tweets, Isaac sent updates to a coworker who helped him put together a story.

Isaac was privy to a generous serving of legal and tech drama. In particular, Facebook's CEO revealed that the company had one weekend to make sure there were no legal hooks in Oculus before buying the VR company for $2 billion in 2014.

"Your plan was to begin legal diligence on Friday, and sign the deal on Monday," a lawyer stated to Zuckerberg—"incredulously," according to Isaac. Zuckerberg's reply: "Yep."

Zuckerberg proceeded to walk the court through the process of buying the company, going so far as to break down finances: $2 billion for Oculus, $700 million set aside for "retention for key folks," and a $300 million earnout for hitting milestones.

ZeniMax might have scored a point when Zuckerberg recounted an exchange between himself and Amin Zoufounon, Facebook's VP of corporate development. "There are things they told us that are simply not true," Zoufounon told Zuckerberg. "They" seems to indicate Oculus.

The exchange continued with Zuck telling his lieutenant to "keep pushing forward until we have something we can sign on a moment's notice, then we can figure out how long we wait for diligence," per Isaac's report.

According to Zuckerberg, no one has been fired over ZeniMax's allegations that Oculus personnel stole secrets and technology from ZeniMax, demonstrating Oculus' confidence that their engineers created Rift without stolen secrets from individuals such as John Carmack, who left id Software—part of the Bethesda/ZeniMax family—for the position of CTO at Oculus.

Isaac reported that questioning grew heated, but Zuckerberg didn't flinch, even when it became clear that the attorney's line of questioning centered on ZeniMax's attorney arguing that Zuckerberg could not have performed due diligence in a single weekend before acquiring Oculus.

"It is pretty common when you announce a big deal or do something that all kinds of people just kind of 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."

Pundits expect the proceedings to grow uglier and more heated as testimonies continue. "We're eager to present our case in court," Oculus said in a statement before the trial began last week. "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."

John Carmack, famous for engineering the technology that powered some of the games industry's most lauded titles including Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake, testified late last week.

Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at davidlcraddock.com and @davidlcraddock.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    January 17, 2017 2:43 PM

    David Craddock posted a new article, Zuckerberg testified in court today for the ZeniMax/Oculus trial

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      January 17, 2017 3:01 PM

      Wondered if this had settled. Guess not.

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      January 17, 2017 3:17 PM

      LOL. a weekend to discuss it? zuck says "yep" ? HAHA

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      January 17, 2017 3:25 PM

      God, fuck ZeniMax so much. I really hope they lose this thing outright.

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        January 17, 2017 3:36 PM

        I hope fb/zuck/carmack wins this, but Zenimax does have a case. Any other company would have done the same I think

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          January 17, 2017 3:41 PM

          They only have a case if they can prove Carmack worked on the the Rift while on zenimax time or on zenimax owned systems. This seems highly, highly unlikely for a guy like Carmack, and would have been the absolute most obvious thing that Facebook would have looked in to before spending 2 billion dollars. I expect Facebook is confident for a good reason.

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            January 17, 2017 4:50 PM

            This is actually often not true in the creative industries. You usually need to get clearance from your legal department to work on independent projects, and the company has more potential rights to that work than you might expect. And when you get hired into such companies in the creative industries, you have to declare any works you are currently involved in or have done in the past (i.e., published a book) to clarify ownership of that IP. It really depends on his contract and the laws of the state that has jurisdiction. This will all come out in the court case, but these are details we don't have. Zenimax may in fact have a very strong case, depending on those details.

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              January 17, 2017 4:52 PM

              Pretty much. This is why I could only do maintenance work on RomTerraria while I worked at Amazon and why I couldn't do any side work while at Ritual.

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              January 18, 2017 4:51 AM

              Yup, this. This is something I really appreciated that GitHub did, they went away from the standard agreement everyone uses to explicitly say "Hey, we don't own your side projects as long as they're not competition and not using our tech." or something like that. Even on company machines. Big reason was this is how GitHub was started and sure enough, a couple people started companies while working there.

              Best thing was it was like a page and a half long and easy to understand.

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        January 18, 2017 2:03 PM

        Really? Because I hope facebook takes it in the ass over this.

        They have more money than god, and Zuckerberg's attitude during testimony makes me hate him more than before, which is a significant achievement.

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          January 18, 2017 2:07 PM

          You hope they lose because you hate them. But zenimax had no interest in developing VR, and if they're suing, it's over legal fine print. It's a bi-product of the broken ip/patent system in the States, and I'd rather see companies who innovate win.

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      January 17, 2017 3:36 PM

      ...Zuckerberg said. "Like most people in the court, I've never even heard of ZeniMax before."

      Haha

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