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ZeniMax Claims John Carmack and Others Stole Virtual Reality Technologies for Oculus VR

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  • ZeniMax Claims John Carmack and Others Stole Virtual Reality Technologies for Oculus VR

    ZeniMax Media has publicly come out to say that they believe John Carmack and other former employees have taken "key technologies" when they departed ZeniMax to work for Oculus VR.

    ZeniMax issued a few statements on the matter:
    (The company has) "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."

    Sources close to the Wall Street Journal say that the origins of this dispute date back to early 2012 when Carmack allegedly contacted Palmer Luckey (Oculus VR Founder) in exchange for a prototype VR headset. ZeniMax says that the technologies that Carmack contributed (mainly software) towards this headset were eventually incorporated into the original Oculus Rift headset. ZeniMax had begun to seek compensation in August 2012 for this.

    Carmack had left id Software, owned by ZeniMax, back in November 2013 to become the CTO of Oculus VR. He expressed his disappointment with his work environment at id since he couldn't work on virtual reality there.
    "The proprietary technology and know-how Mr. Carmack developed when he was a ZeniMax employee, and used by Oculus, are owned by ZeniMax," the company's statement continues.

    "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."

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

    John Carmack did issue a statement on the matter a short time ago via Twitter.

    This is essentially ZeniMax versus Facebook now that Facebook owns Oculus VR. This is going to be very interesting to see how things develop going forward.

    (WSJ via Polygon)