Zenimax Claims Carmack Stole Intellectual Property for Oculus - News

By Daniel Carreras, May 2, 2014
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Zenimax, the owners of such studios that brought you The Elder Scrolls series and Wolfenstein, have recently come out to accuse former employee John Carmack of stealing property in his move from ID to Oculus VR. Zenimax stated to Engadget:

"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.

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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."

For those of you not wanting to read that massive wall of text, Zenimax is basically claiming that the founders of Oculus acknowledged in writing that they were using some of Zenimax's intellectual property in developing the Oculus Rift. With the recent buyout from Facebook, Zenimax looks set to gain a lot of money in royalties or payments as a consequence of this proceeding.

John Carmack had the following to say in regards to the allegations:

"No work I have ever done has been patented. Zenimax owns the code that I wrote, but they don't own VR."

Time will tell what becomes of the two companies after this battle, but this looks set to become a bitter fight for the foreseeable future.

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