Palmer Watch: Day 111

Palmer Watch: Day 111

Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus VR, is still nowhere to be seen. That may be all over soon. This week marked the start of a trial over the $US2 billion ($2.6 billion) lawsuit brought by video game company Zenimax against Oculus VR owner Facebook. The suit alleges Oculus stole core intellectual property when it poached current Chief Technical Officer, John Carmack, and there’s a possibility Luckey may be called to testify.

Image: AP/Art: Sam Wooley

Luckey’s been incommunicado ever since The Daily Beast revealed his association with and funding of Nimble America, a pro-Trump political advocacy group that was essentially Gamergate come to life. Luckey apologised, and has completely dropped off the map in the 111 days since. The last we’ve heard is that Luckey would be taking a new role within Oculus, but we’re still waiting on Facebook to provide even the slightest detail as to what that may be.

A lawyer working on behalf of Zenimax said he would “call many live witnesses, [Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg] included”. We’ve reached out to the lawyer representing Zenimax to see if he has any plans to call Luckey to the stand, but had not heard back at time of writing.

Zenimax alleges that Carmack copied thousands of documents with technical details that would assist in building the Oculus Rift headset, but Oculus has denied this claim. Carmack didn’t want to talk about Luckey when I approached him last year at Oculus’s annual developer conference, and his public relations handlers were quick to escort Carmack away. Zenimax also contends that the story of Luckey building the Oculus’s Rift headset in his parents garage was fabricated. Zenimax alleges this was to distract from the stolen intellectual property by Oculus and Carmack. Oculus has denied these claims too. Oculus hired Carmack in August 2013, several months before Facebook officially acquired Oculus. Facebook yesterday called the suit a “wasteful litigation to attempt to take credit for technology that it did not have the vision, expertise, or patience to build”.

It’s been a long time since the one-time most prominent virtual reality evangelist has made a public appearance, but that could all come to an end if Luckey takes the stand in a Dallas, Texas courtroom.