More drama in the video game industry as a fight erupts over the rights to the technology powering the Oculus!
It was just reported by Wall Street Journal that Zenimax Media Inc. claimed that the IP that runs Oculus Rift was actually stolen by John Carmack (id Software co-founder and creator of Doom). According to WSJ Zenimasx’s lawyers have sent two letters, one to Oculus VR and the other to Facebook which recently acquired Oculus VR for 2 billion dollars (the deal is yet to close).
John Carmack left id Software which was a subsidiary of Zemimax to become the new chief technology officer at Oculus VR. Zenimax’s lawsuit is on the basis that Carmack has stolen the IP developed during his time at id Software to create the Oculus VR what it is now. This is the statement Zenimax spokesperson gave IGN:
"ZeniMax confirms it recently sent formal notice of its legal rights to Oculus concerning its ownership of key technology used by Oculus to develop and market the Oculus Rift. ZeniMax’s technology may not be licensed, transferred or sold without ZeniMax Media’s approval. ZeniMax’s intellectual property rights arise by reason of extensive VR research and development works done over a number of years by John Carmack while a ZeniMax employee, and others. ZeniMax provided necessary VR technology and other valuable assistance to Palmer Luckey and other Oculus employees in 2012 and 2013 to make the Oculus Rift a viable VR product, superior to other VR market offerings.
The proprietary technology and know-how Mr. Carmack developed when he was a ZeniMax employee, and used by Oculus, are owned by ZeniMax. Well before the Facebook transaction was announced, Mr. Luckey acknowledged in writing ZeniMax’s legal ownership of this intellectual property. It was further agreed that Mr. Luckey would not disclose this technology to third persons without approval. Oculus has used and exploited ZeniMax’s technology and intellectual property without authorization, compensation or credit to ZeniMax. ZeniMax and Oculus previously attempted to reach an agreement whereby ZeniMax would be compensated for its intellectual property through equity ownership in Oculus but were unable to reach a satisfactory resolution. ZeniMax believes it is necessary to address these matters now and will take the necessary action to protect its interests."
Oculus spokesperson denied the claims saying the following to IGN, "It's unfortunate, but when there's this type of transaction, people come out of the woodwork with ridiculous and absurd claims. We intend to vigorously defend Oculus and its investors to the fullest extent," an Oculus spokesperson told IGN.
Back in 2012, Carmack contacted Oculus VR’s founder Palmer Luckey leading to the creation of the Oculus Rift. Sometime later the same year the unsuccessful negotiations started between Zenimax and Oculus VR for Zenimax to get some sort of compensation for the Oculus IP. John Carmack has however come forward and posted on Twitter denying Zenimax’s claims over the IP with the following tweets :
"Oculus uses zero lines of code that I wrote while under contract to Zenimax,"
"No work I have ever done has been patented. Zenimax owns the code that I wrote, but they don’t own VR.”