Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared Tuesday before a court in Dallas to refute intellectual property claims made against Oculus Rift. Palmer Luckey, co-founder of Oculus VR, later showed on Wednesday for the same reason.
Zuckerberg is involved in a trial against the Oculus VR headset, which his company now owns.
Developer ZeniMax Media Inc. claims they had substantial ownership of the device’s creation, something that Luckey later took away from them.
If this trial favors them, it could have very significant implications for the VR world. ZeniMax seeks more than $2 billion in damages from Facebook and a possible injunction to stop the sales of the Oculus Rift headset.
The case against Palmer Luckey and the Oculus Rift
ZeniMax claims responsibility for most of the design and development of the Oculus VR headset. It accuses game developer John Carmack of reportedly using ZeniMax’s resources to develop a prototype for Oculus Rift and later fleeing to Palmer Luckey’s company.
Carmack deliberately stole data from ZeniMax’s computers, according to accusations, and then used it to create the Rift headset, which Palmer would present as his personal creation.
ZeniMax claimed that Luckey had little formal training in engineering and did not have the resources to build such a device. They filed a lawsuit in 2014, and the case is still open.
Zuckerberg says that ZeniMax’s claims are unreliable
Facebook’s CEO stated he received a letter from ZeniMax in which they explained their accusations in depth, but he dismissed them as having little credibility.
He also remarked that his introduction to the Oculus system was via Facebook executive Marc Andreessen and followed the company’s first line of defense, which is claiming that ZeniMax only complained about Oculus after Facebook purchased it for $2 billion.
John Carmack stated in court he had approached ZeniMax with an idea for a VR system but was turned down by CEO Robert Altman.
The future of virtual reality headsets is not looking good
At the trial, Zuckerberg hinted that virtual reality technologies do not have the success that companies like Facebook initially expected.
Though there are companies still willing to fight for it, statistics have shown that this field currently stalls in sales, mainly because of price and availability issues.
If this trend continues, the VR market might suffer the same fate as the smartwatch industry. The best-selling VR headset today’s is Samsung’s Gear VR, who surpassed PlayStation’s VR sales against all the odds.
Most developers agree that this technology is still in its early stages and that there’s a lot of work to do. Augmented reality might be the logical next step, but to achieve a quality product in that department, VR headsets need to be present.