Game publisher ZeniMax Media Inc. and subsidiary id Software filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against virtual reality company Oculus VR and its founder, Palmer Luckey.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, claiming that ZeniMax's trade secrets relating to virtual reality were illegally misappropriated. ZeniMax also claims that Oculus VR is infringing on its copyrights and trademarks. Additional claims include breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and unfair competition.
ZeniMax accuses Oculus VR of "unlawful exploitation of intellectual property, including trade secrets, copyrighted computer code, and technical know-how relating to virtual reality technology that was developed by ZeniMax after years of research and investment."
ZeniMax claims that it provided valuable intellectual property (IP) to Oculus under a binding Non-Disclosure Agreement. This agreement specifically says that the IP is owned exclusively by ZeniMax "and cannot be used, disclosed, or transferred to third parties without ZeniMax's approval."
The company believes that its IP is what has driven the Oculus Rift HMD since its inception, and that Oculus VR is still using ZeniMax's property without authorization. In turn, Oculus VR has supposedly refused to offer a reasonable compensation.
"All efforts by ZeniMax to resolve this matter amicably have been unsuccessful," ZeniMax announced on Wednesday. "Oculus has recently issued a public statement remarkably claiming that "ZeniMax has never contributed IP or technology to Oculus." Meanwhile, Luckey has held himself out to the public as the visionary developer of virtual reality technology, when in fact the key technology Luckey used to establish Oculus was developed by ZeniMax."
"Oculus uses zero lines of code that I wrote while under contract to ZeniMax," Oculus VR CTO John Carmack stated on Twitter on May 1.
"ZeniMax canceled VR support for Doom 3 BFG when Oculus refused ZeniMax's demands for a non-dilutable equity stake in Oculus," Oculus VR said on May 5. "ZeniMax did not pursue claims against Oculus for IP or technology, ZeniMax has never contributed any IP or technology to Oculus, and only after the Facebook deal was announced has ZeniMax now made these claims through its lawyers."
"We now look to the federal courts and will pursue all appropriate measures available under the law to rectify defendants' egregious conduct," said ZeniMax's lawyer.
Does ZeniMax merely want a piece of the popular pie, or could this misuse of IP be the real deal? If we remember correctly, Luckey was working on Oculus Rift before John Carmack entered the scene.
MORE: Did Carmack Really "Steal" ZeniMax's Tech for Oculus Rift?
The judge will rule that Carkack can continue working for Oculus, but Zenimax will have the right to rip out his brain.
"Somehow righting code for a game is the same as writing code for the hardware. This is so bs it's laughable."
I see what you did there. Writing vs. righting. :)
Carmack's brain has been occupied outside the realm of gaming/engine development for some time now, which is reflected in his sale of Id to Zenimax/Bethesda in the first place. If it isn't amateur aeronautics, speculative hardware engineering, or VR, he isn't interested. Which I think is essentially the problem with the purchase of Id. Zeni/Beth knew this was the case when they took Carmack on board along with Id. I have to imagine they were aware of his activities and inclinations before purchasing the company (they must have investigated why he was selling in the first place), and been aware of his activities after. I'm pretty sure they gave him free-reign to 'play' on their dime for his name on their products alone, but were they actively funding anything he was doing? We know he wasn't a part of any development over at Zeni. Did Zeni think they literally bought Carmack's brain? When was Zeni funding a VR project? I admit it's a little confusing as to why Zenimax was paying Carmack, or why he felt he could take the money if he wasn't strictly appointed to actively develop technology for them...but that would have come to light by now. They were simply paying him because the only value in the identity of 'Id' is Carmack, and Carmack is/was a big mover in the industry. His name alone attached to something, is big money and hype whether he is really involved on any level or not.