ZeniMax accuses John Carmack of theft

Doom co-creator John Carmack is accused by former employer ZeniMax Media of alleged theft of developmental and intellectual property associated with the Oculus Rift. Continue-Play has a full statement here:

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.

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.

Noticeable in that address is the lack of reference to precisely what sort of technology was developed by ZeniMax pertaining to the Oculus. A response to an Engadget article and a direct tweet by Carmack suggests that the piece of property may be software in the headset.

Additionally, ZeniMax’s claims are arousing suspicion because of the $2 billion Facebook acquisition of Oculus VR. The claims, Business Insider and The Wall Street Journal note, are heavily dependant upon the context of Facebook’s buyout bid.

Regardless, the disputes between ZeniMax and Oculus VR dates as far back as August 2012, even before the $2.4 million Kickstarter finished in September of the same year.

Though there has been no major development thus far regarding the exact software in question, or more details regarding the letters sent to Carmack, Oculus, and Facebook specifically, Continue Play will update accordingly.

Joe Yang

Joe Yang

Coordinating Editor
Unnecessarily wordy human being, MA graduate, and former Buddhist monk. Moonlight scholar with an interest in ludic components and narrative interplay. Co-ordinator and email jockey at Project Cognizance.
Joe Yang

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