Zenimax Takes Legal Action Against John Carmack for Intellectual Property Theft

Zenimax claims that Carmack stole intellectual property on his way to Oculus.
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Zenimax Studios is in the process of taking legal action against former employee John Carmack, who left his position with id Software for one with Oculus Rift before it was acquired by Facebook.

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Zenimax told Game Informer that Carmack stole proprietary technology (software he had developed as an employee) on his way to Oculus.

“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.”

Zenimax also claims that, before the transaction with Facebook, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey confirmed in writing that some of its intellectual property was owned by Zenimax Studios.

The conflict arises from Zenimax selling some of its technology to Oculus, and the two companies were attempting to reach an agreement where Oculus would compensate Zenimax through equity ownership. However, neither side could reach a satisfactory agreement and the issue was never resolved.

Now that Facebook owns Oculus, things have become a little more sticky. A representative from Facebook Oculus stated:

“It’s unfortunate, but when there’s this type of transaction, people come out of the woodwork with ridiculous and absurd claims… We intend to vigorously defend Oculus and its investors to the fullest extent.”

It could be possible that there’s more at play than we currently know; these are some pretty serious claims coming from Zenimax, and I seriously doubt it’s all just a hissy fit that they themselves couldn’t acquire Oculus. 

To me, it sounds more like Zenimax was attempting to put some faith and stock in Oculus as a small company trying to do big things–according to an anonymous source at the Wall Street Journal, Zenimax began its involvement with Oculus in August 2012, when the Kickstarter campaign began. Now that they’re with a big company who has the means to do big things, Zenimax is looking to get paid for what they put in before the sellout.

What do you think?

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Katy Hollingsworth
whale biologist.