Mark Zuckerberg Gets Testy In Oculus Lawsuit Grilling 

Mark Zuckerberg Gets Testy In Oculus Lawsuit Grilling 

DALLAS — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg fired off some sick burns and engaged in a heated exchange with a lawyer while giving testimony in a blockbuster $US2 billion ($2.6 billion) lawsuit trial here in a northern district Federal courtroom on Tuesday.

Mark Zuckerberg (Getty)

In the first time he’s ever testified in a trial, Zuckerberg was grilled by Zenimax lawyer Toni Sammi in the company’s intellectual property lawsuit against Oculus-owner Facebook.

The suit alleges that Oculus stole trade secrets in part when former senior ZeniMax employee John Carmack left ZeniMax and joined Oculus as chief technical officer in 2014. The company also says Facebook quickly pushed through the deal to purchase Oculus in 2014 and didn’t perform adequate due diligence, ignoring a legal letter sent from Zenimax threatening litigation.

In response to a question from Sammi on the legal warning ahead of the Oculus sale, Zuck dropped a brutal own on Zenimax.

“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,” Zuck 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.”

ZeniMax is the owner of video game developers Bethesda Softworks (Fallout, Skyrim) and id Software (Quake, Doom). Sammi then repeatedly laid into Zuck over his use of the word “woodwork” and asked incredulously how he could never have heard of ZeniMax, considering the technical wizard Oculus hired, Carmack, had worked there previously.

Earlier in the day, Sammi asked Zuckerberg if he had fired Carmack. Zuck smiled back and said: “My understanding is that the claims in this case are false, so it would be wrong to fire him for that.” This comment and other coy remarks from Zuck were met by laughter from the courtroom.

Sammi and Zuckerberg also had a terse exchange over Zuck’s knowledge of a 2014 non-disclosure agreement between Zenimax and Oculus founder Palmer Luckey. Initially, Zuck refused to commit to the fact that he had first known about the NDA in 2016, two years after the purchase of Oculus, and only in a deposition for the current lawsuit. Eventually, the Facebook CEO agreed that was the first he’d heard of it. “So I’m the guy who told you about it for the first time,” Sammi asked.

“Sounds right,” Zuckerberg replied.

Facebook’s knowledge of the NDA is key to ZeniMax’s case, which alleges that Luckey violated his NDA when he pitched Oculus, and that Facebook didn’t do adequate due diligence ahead of the purchase.

Sammi also attempted to establish how quickly Facebook rushed the purchase of Oculus. Referencing an email from Zuckerberg to Amin Zoufounoun, the vice president of corporate development at Facebook, Sammi alleged Zuckerberg pushed to conduct only two days of legal diligence.

“Your plan was to begin legal diligence on Friday, and sign the deal on Monday?” Sammi asked Zuckerberg, sounding outraged.

“Yep,” replied Zuckerberg.

Referencing the short timeframe, Sammi said: “It takes longer than that to inspect a house!”

Zuckerberg: “I can’t really speak to the timeframe it takes to inspect a house.”

Sammi later referenced texts sent to Zuckerberg from Zoufounoun saying that Oculus had told Facebook things during negotiations that were “simply not true”. In a text message, Zuckerberg replied, “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.”

Luckey and former Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe are scheduled to testify later this week. ZeniMax is seeking $US2 billion ($2.6 billion) in damages.

Originally posted on Gizmodo.


  • Not a fan of Zuckerberg – it will be interesting to see the result of the case. I’d say it would settle at some point.

      • Probably because he took money to develop a social network but made his own one instead while leading on the investors.

      • Heck if anything it sounds as if he is being evasive, blatantly lying in court and knows perfectly well that they didn’t perform due diligence. He just knows that his money can buy him out on these issues and his smugness is a reflection of this. Sounds as though oculus was also being pretty two faced, recieving technical know how from valve whilst doing the deal with facebook. People also forget that carmack was the one who strapped the IMU (gyro tracking) to the prototype rift and then demoed a version of Doom 3 (a zenimax IP) at e3 all whilst on zenimax payroll. I would say they have a good case. I’m glad as facebook seem hell bent on making an Orwellian dystopia a reality.

    • Zuck tried to fuck the people who helped him start the Facebook. Why would he just settle with this company even though he knows for a fact everything they’re saying is true.

      • Only because it is cheaper than losing. Most cases settle for that reason. People worried about ongoing stress and legal costs, and the possibility that no matter how good they think their case is, that they will lose.

  • Hmm who to cheer on, Facebook, or Zenimax, both are insidious arseholes, but i think ill side with facebook as Zenimax have been able to get away with murder while EA, Activision or Ubisoft gets called out in 3 seconds

    • I feel like Zenimax have this in the bag because of Carmack. The timeline is way too suspicious.

      Their only challenge will be in proving that the theft caused damages (to the tune of $2 billion no less). I can see them winning the case, but walking away with substantially less than they’re asking for.

  • Zenimax is responsible (ultimately) for some of the most successful game IPs currently being supported.

    It’s the complete opposite of the ‘plucky’ whiz-kid rags-to-riches stories we got fed for the two Johns at id, Zuckerberg and Facebook, and more recently Luckey with Oculus.

    It’s the typical mega-conglomerate we’re always taught to hat-BETHESDA E3 CONFERENCE HYPE!!!

  • I’m not an expert in IP law, but it’s not looking great for Facebook and Oculus. Carmack has straight up admitted stealing code in court that didn’t really belong to him. Personally, I think the idea that code he wrote doesn’t belong to him ridiculous, but any contract Zenimax had him sign definitely had a clause like that in there somewhere.

    • That’s true, but with regards to Facebook (rather than Carmack himself) the question is more:
      – Okay, if Carmack did it, did Facebook have knowledge of that when they signed the contract?
      – If they didn’t, should they have found out during the process of due diligence?
      – If yes, then are they liable for not doing the necessary amount of due diligence?

    • Personally, I think the idea that code he wrote doesn’t belong to him ridiculous

      Why? If I write code when I’m on the clock (which I do every day), that code belongs to my employer.

      Of course, if we’re talking about code that solves a similar problem being written from scratch in two different places, that gets a bit more hairy.

    • Standard employment contracts for developers say everything you write while at the company belongs to the company, not you.

    • I think what he admitted to “stealing” was a copy of all his e-mails before he left, which would have included snippets of code and such.

      From the discussion I’ve seen, Carmack wouldn’t have necessarily had a straight-up “anything you write while employed here is ours” contract, and most know of how he was still able to work on the rocketry stuff and had concessions for that in his contract. And I forget the details of it, but there were other examples of how he’s worked on other things and released them with no claims from Zenimax, and something or other about the lines between employment work and hobby work were blurred enough for there not to be a strong argument for “anything done at Zenimax belongs to Zenimax” being the case.

    • If you’re refering to him demoing Id Tech 4 code on an oculus – Tech 4 has been released under GPL and therefore anyone is free to demo.

      There might be a trademark/copyright case on the art assets, but yeah the code is GPL

  • I want Facebook to lose, only because I don’t want Doom’s future to be negatively impacted. After Doom 4, the future is bright again. Don’t let Facebook take it away.

    • its not facebook you should blame if anything happens to doom. its all on Zenimax. Im getting sick and tired of Zenimax getting away with murder while other publishers are tarred and feathered.

      Remember Zenimax Screwed over Obsidian when they refused to be brought out, then they Screwed over Human Head and Prey 2 because they refused to be taken over and then they block Kotaku for ACTUALLY doing their job.

      Edit: oh dont forget the SCROLLS debarcle with Mojang, Paid Mods Shitstorm and Mods on PS4 before sony had given the green light to what they would allow.

      • I think if anyone is directly to blame for this it’s Carmack. But I’m not sure on that.
        This is why there’s a trial.
        But don’t worry, I share your disdain for Zenimax.

        • i also get sick and tired of bethesda putting out buggy games and still getting great reviews while other games are often destroyed if they have half as many bugs

  • This whole case screams of zenimax seeing something popular and saying “I want some of that”. The company is known to be sue happy.

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