Oculus' John Carmack Has Serious Doubts About $500 Million Lawsuit’s Expert Witness [UPDATE]

John Carmack by Nick Ut/AP Images
John Carmack by Nick Ut/AP Images

Oculus CTO and renowned Quake and Doom programmer John Carmack slammed a Dallas jury’s Wednesday decision against Oculus in a $500 million copyright and non-disclosure agreement lawsuit. On Facebook, Carmack specifically takes issue with an expert witness whose testimony, he says, is “just not true.”


For two years, Oculus has battled allegations of intellectual property theft. Entertainment company Zenimax accuses the Facebook-owned virtual reality company of stealing their source code. The case alleges that Carmack developed much of the Oculus Rift headset technology while employed at Zenimax and violated an NDA. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey countered that he developed it himself. Yesterday, Oculus was ordered to pay half a billion dollars, even though the Dallas jury decided Oculus didn’t appropriate trade secrets.

After Zenimax won the suit, Carmack on Facebook yesterday ripped into Zenimax’s expert witness. “I never tried to hide or wipe any evidence, and all of my data is accounted for, contrary to some stories being spread,” Carmack wrote. He counters that an expert witness was wrong that Oculus had “non-literally copied” his source code.

Essentially, an expert witness testified that he was “absolutely certain” the finalized Oculus Rift source code closely resembled code Carmack had previously developed while at Zenimax. “By the end, after seven cases of ‘absolutely certain’, I was wondering if gangsters had kidnapped his grandchildren and were holding them for ransom,” Carmack wrote. “If the code examples were released publicly, the internet would have viciously mocked the analysis.”

On Wednesday, Oculus told Kotaku reporter Nathan Grayson that they will appeal the decision. To Polygon, Zenimax said they may seek an injunction preventing Oculus and Facebook from continuing to sell “our misappropriated technology.”

[Update—12:20 PM]: Responding to Carmack’s statement, Zenimax told Gamasutra, “In addition to expert testimony finding both literal and non-literal copying, Oculus programmers themselves admitted using Zenimax’s copyrighted code . . . The Oculus Rift was built on a foundation of Zenimax technology. . . As for the denial of wiping, the Court’s independent expert found 92 percent of Carmack’s hard drive was wiped—all data was permanently destroyed, right after Carmack got notice of the lawsuit, and that his affidavit denying the wiping was false. Those are the hard facts.”

Senior reporter at Kotaku.



Guy who cost his company $500 million doesn’t agree with witness who testified against him. Surprising.