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ZeniMax Media sues Oculus VR and its co-founder over patent disputes

As Oculus VR is enjoying its feast provided via Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition, it seems the company as well as it’s co-founder has a lawsuit coming on their way. Both Oculus VR and it’s co-founder Palmer Luckey are sued by the firm’s CTO John Carmack’s former employer id Software (owned by ZeniMax Media).oculus-rift

In an official announcement, ZeniMax said that it is suing Oculus VR claiming that John Carmack had stolen and misappropriated id Software’s trade secrets relating to virtual reality technology. The lawsuit was filed in Texas, where id Software is based.


Well, this is not the first time ZeniMax Media claiming about their stolen project. Earlier in April, ZeniMax publicly accused Carmack of taking intellectual property with him to Oculus VR, where ZeniMax’s lawyer said,

“It was only through the concerted efforts of Mr. Carmack, using technology developed over many years at, and owned by, ZeniMax, that [Oculus founder] Mr. Luckey was able to transform his garage-based pipe dream into a working reality.”

Later,  Oculus VR denied the claims of id Software and its parent company ZeniMax Media and said:

“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.”

Even John Carmack denied the claims of ZeniMax on his Twitter account, where he said:

“No work I have ever done has been patented. ZeniMax owns the code that I wrote, but they don’t own VR.”

John Carmack initially endorsed and then started to work with the co-founder Palmer Luckey, when he first introduced the project in a successful Kickstarter campaign. Eventually, he joined the company as chief technology officer in last August.

What’s going on now?

Well, as per the statement released by ZeniMax, “All efforts by ZeniMax to resolve this matter amicably have been unsuccessful.” While Robert Altman, Chairman & CEO of ZeniMax said:

“Intellectual property forms the foundation of our business. We cannot ignore the unlawful exploitation of intellectual property that we develop and own, nor will we allow misappropriation and infringement to go unaddressed.”

Meanwhile the lawyer P. Anthony Sammi has said that he will work to pursue all appropriate measures available under the law to rectify defendants.

We guess the ZeniMax is targeting John Carmack’s public announcement of Doom 3 game for the Rift at annual E3 trade show. And it seems the company’s acquisition by Facebook for $2 billion made them more responsive in this case. Recently, Carmack had also stated to Wired that there were no NDAs (non disclosure agreements) nor any signing when he and Palmer worked together initially.

ZeniMax Media has also stated that “Carmack and other Zenimax employees conducted that research at Zenimax offices, on Zenimax computers, and using Zenimax resources,” while Carmack claimed earlier that he was working on the new project outside of work hours.zenimax-virtual-reality-headset

It looks like ZeniMax was working on virtual reality project through id Software since long time and to prove that the company has also included an image in the lawsuit filing, where we can see an id Software staff testing the prototype gadget. The suit filing reads:

“For many years, ZeniMax invested tens of millions of dollars in research and development, including research into virtual reality and immersive technologies.”

Most important part is, John Carmack showed the Oculus Rift to the press in E3 trade show 2012 still being employed by ZeniMax. Meanwhile, Oculus VR responded to the statement released by ZeniMax, where, as usually,  it said:

“The lawsuit filed by ZeniMax has no merit whatsoever. As we have previously said, ZeniMax did not contribute to any Oculus technology. Oculus will defend these claims vigorously.”

As of now, it’s still unclear what Zenimax is looking for, but we can surely expect a huge damage in millions from Oculus, ultimately from Facebook. Meanwhile Zenimax is asking for a trial by jury, let’s see what happens next. Stay tuned for more updates on this story.

About Kate McEnroe

Kate is a well known optimist New Yorker and experienced in digital as well as analog gadgets, she is the senior manager as well as senior writer of TND Media, who loves to write about Microsoft technologies, Laptops & PCs. All posts by Kate

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