Oculus VR says ZeniMax suit aims to cash in on Facebook acquisition

Oculus VR said that neither code nor technology from ZeniMax figures in its products

Oculus VR has accused game publisher ZeniMax Media of attempting to cash in on Facebook's pending acquisition of the wearable virtual reality technology company.

In a court filing challenging ZeniMax's ownership claims in its virtual reality technology, Oculus also cited mail from a former employee of ZeniMax, which said he was concerned that he would be confused as the developer of the Rift virtual reality headset from Oculus.

ZeniMax filed in May a lawsuit against Oculus in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas division for exploiting commercially intellectual property that the games publisher allegedly shared under a non-disclosure agreement with Oculus, which enabled it to improve on its "crude prototype" of a virtual reality headset.

Oculus holds that not a single line of code or any of ZeniMax technology has gone into its products.

"Until the Facebook deal, and the perceived chance for a quick payout, ZeniMax never raised any claim of infringement against Oculus VR, undoubtedly because ZeniMax never has contributed any intellectual property or technology to Oculus VR," Oculus said in the court filing on Wednesday.

In March, Facebook said it had reached a deal to buy Oculus for about US$2 billion.

ZeniMax had never identified any stolen code or technology in any Oculus VR product, although it had received the full source code from Oculus for over a year and a half, Oculus said.

The key to the dispute is the nature of the alleged collaboration from April 2012 between Oculus founder Palmer Luckey, then a video game enthusiast working on a headset, and John Carmack who was technical director for ZeniMax's Texas-based subsidiary, id Software, until he joined Oculus in August 2013.

Carmack is said to have agreed on joining ZeniMax that it would be the author and owner of any copyrightable works that he prepared within the scope of his employment, ZeniMax said in its complaint to the court in May.

Oculus counters that before ZeniMax made any contact with Luckey, he had already demonstrated prototypes of the Rift headset publicly with various virtual reality-specific software and even Rift-specific applications. Luckey met much after the demonstrations with Carmack who was interested in using the Rift prototype, and several other head-mounted devices he had acquired, to conduct demonstrations of his videogame software at the E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) convention in 2012.

Before demonstrations of ZeniMax game "Doom 3: BFG Edition" at the E3 convention, Carmack is said to have been concerned that he would be confused as the creator of the Rift. "I am doing my best to not let anyone mistake the Rift as my work, but I'm sure someone is going to get it confused next week. I am sensitive to the fact that the press has a tendency to over-attribute things to me, because 'genius inventor' is such a convenient story hook," Carmack, a well-regarded games programmer, is said to have written in a mail to Luckey.

ZeniMax could not be immediately reached for comment on Oculus' filing. "Oculus used ZeniMax's hardware and software technology to create a software development kit (SDK) for the Rift and to develop, modify, and tune the Rift hardware," the games publisher alleged in its May complaint. The companies negotiated unsuccessfully up to 2013 the terms of the compensation for the technology and assistance, and ZeniMax claims Oculus never gave it any compensation.

Oculus has asked for a jury trial on all issues.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags business issuesOculus VRintellectual propertygameslegalZeniMax MediaMergers and acquisitionsFacebook

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?