In 2014 ZeniMax Media and its subsidiary company id Software filed a lawsuit against Oculus VR, its founder Palmer Luckey, and Facebook. The claim was that the Oculus Rift headset had been created from illegally misappropriated ZeniMax trade secrets relating to virtual reality technology, and infringed ZeniMax copyrights and trademarks.
Facebook tried to get the case dismissed in 2015, but a judge dismissed the request – unfortunately for Facebook because things just got worse.
ZeniMax has altered the complaint against Oculus to include the Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe and id Software co-founder and Oculus’ current chief technology officer John Carmack.
According to the complaint, ZeniMax outright claims that Carmack stole information from ZeniMax after being fired and gave the information to creator Palmer Luckey. That's where Iribe comes in, apparently, Iribe made up the story that Luckey created VR technology in his parents' garage. ZeniMax claims that Luckey lacked the skills that could lead to the creation of the VR headset and used the stolen documents to create the VR headset.
The accounts of Carmack's actions from the filing:
“Instead of complying with his contract, during his last days at ZeniMax, he copied thousands of documents from a computer at ZeniMax to a USB storage device. He never returned those files or all copies of them after his employment with ZeniMax was terminated. In addition, after Carmack's employment with ZeniMax was terminated, he returned to ZeniMax's premises to take a customized tool for developing VR Technology belonging to ZeniMax that itself is part of ZeniMax's VR technology.”
"Oculus, at Iribe’s direction, disseminated to the press the false and fanciful story that Luckey was the brilliant inventor of VR technology who had developed that technology in his parents’ garage. In fact, that story was utterly and completely false: Luckey lacked the training, expertise, resources, or know-how to create commercially viable VR technology, his computer programming skills were rudimentary, and he relied on ZeniMax's computer program code and games to demonstrate the prototype Rift. Nevertheless, this fraudulent tale was frequently reported in the media as fact. Luckey increasingly and falsely held himself out to the media and the public as the visionary developer of the Rift’s VR Technology, which had actually been developed by ZeniMax without any substantial contribution from Luckey."
The ZeniMax complaint goes on to add that Facebook acquired Oculus after the original ZeniMax lawsuit was filed.
[Update: An Oculus spokesperson has supplied a statement]
As for the claims against them an Oculus stated that is was a one-sided claim:
"This complaint filed by ZeniMax is one-sided and conveys only ZeniMax's interpretation of the story. We continue to believe this case has no merit, and we will address all of ZeniMax's allegations in court."
We will have to wait and see how this unfolds.
This complaint filed by ZeniMax is one-sided and conveys only ZeniMax's interpretation of the story. We continue to believe this case has no merit, and we will address all of ZeniMax's allegations in court.