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Oculus Rift Technology Was Stolen, Zenimax Lawsuit Claims

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Is the technology in Oculus Rift stolen? ZeniMax Media Inc has claimed that the intellectual property that runs Oculus Rift was stolen by id Software co-founder and Doom creator John Carmack.

According to The Wall Street Journal, two letters have been issued to Rift Developers and Facebook by ZeniMax’s lawyers.

John Carmack left id Software, which is a subsidiary of ZeniMax, to become Oculus VR’s new Chief Technology Officer. ZeniMax is accusing Carmack of taking the IP developed under the auspices of id Software.

A ZeniMax spokesperson said,

“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.”

Oculus says,

“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.”

Update: John Carmack denies having taken tech from Zenimax to Oculus.

“Oculus uses zero lines of code that I wrote while under contract to Zenimax,” he said on Twitter. “No work I have ever done has been patented. Zenimax owns the code that I wrote, but they don’t own VR.”

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