Oculus Rift Maker Slapped With ZeniMax Lawsuit
May 22, 2014

ZeniMax And id Software File Suit Against Oculus VR

Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Virtual reality headset maker Oculus VR and its founder Palmer Luckey are facing a very real lawsuit. On Wednesday id Software and its owner ZeniMax Media filed a suit in Texas, alleging that Luckey and his company illegally misappropriated trade secrets in order to build development tools for the Oculus Rift headset.

ZeniMax issued a statement that said all efforts to resolve this matter amicably were unsuccessful and this week it filed the lawsuit, which claimed that Oculus VR used trade secrets, copyrighted computer code and other technical know-how.

"Under a binding Non-Disclosure Agreement, ZeniMax provided Defendants with access to intellectual property developed by ZeniMax after years of research and investment," read the Nature of the Action in the court filing. "This valuable intellectual property included copyrighted computer code, trade secret information, and technical know-how. The Non-Disclosure Agreement expressly provides that ZeniMax's intellectual property is confidential, owned exclusively by ZeniMax, and cannot be disclosed to or used by any third parties without ZeniMax's prior written approval. Defendants have wrongfully taken that ZeniMax intellectual property and commercially exploited it for their own gain. Defendants now stand to realize billions of dollars in value from ZeniMax's intellectual property. Defendants ever obtained a license for the use of ZeniMax's property, nor any right to sell or transfer it to third parties. By this action, ZeniMax seeks damages that will fairly and fully compensate it for Defendants’ infringement and misappropriation of its intellectual property. Without this relief, Defendants will continue to profit unjustly."

Earlier this month Oculus VR responded to allegations that it stole any VR technology. The allegations followed social media giant Facebook's announcement in March that it would purchase the VR technology company for $2 billion.

ZeniMax has contended that video game designer John Carmack – who was also a founder of id Software – had used technology developed by ZeniMax. The company's lawsuit also claims that Oculus, with the help of Carmack, had hired away multiple employees – who may have known other confidential and proprietary information as well as the inner workings of ZeniMax and its VR technology.

ZeniMax has alleged that this gave Oculus VR something of a "free ride" on the way to its $2 billion payday.

"Intellectual property forms the foundation of our business," ZeniMax CEO Robert Altman said in a statement. "We cannot ignore the unlawful exploitation of intellectual property that we develop and own, nor will we allow misappropriation and infringement to go unaddressed."

According to Engadget reporter Ben Gilbert, ZeniMax has noted that Carmack had ported Doom 3 – the high-profile first-person shooter that he had designed while at id Software – for the Oculus Rift headset. This was shown to the press at the game industry's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) trade show last year.

Wired reports that Carmack has said that when he and Palmer worked together there were "no NDAs, no signing anything".

Carmack had joined Oculus as chief technology officer in August of last year, and only formally left ZeniMax in November to join Oculus on a full-time basis.

"The lawsuit filed by ZeniMax has no merit whatsoever," Oculus VR responded via a statement as reported by Engadget. "As we have previously said, ZeniMax did not contribute to any Oculus technology. Oculus will defend these claims vigorously."