Carmack at centre of Oculus and ZeniMax legal tussle

Carmack at centre of Oculus and ZeniMax legal tussle
Craig Chapple

By Craig Chapple

May 6th 2014 at 10:37AM

Publisher claims VR firm is using its intellectual property for the Rift headset

John Carmack has found himself at the centre of an increasingly bitter legal dispute between virtual reality firm Oculus and publisher ZeniMax.

Carmack officially joined Oculus in August last year as CTO, splitting his time between the two companies before eventually leaving id Software and ZeniMax for good in November.

Following the move and Facebook’s $2bn acquisition of Oculus, the publisher has now claimed Carmack shared ZeniMax’s intellectual property with Oculus before and after he joined them.

"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," a Zenimax spokesperson told The Verge.

"The proprietary technology and know-how Mr. Carmack developed when he was a ZeniMax employee, and used by Oculus, are owned by ZeniMax."

Carmack responded to the allegations on Twitter and claimed Oculus does not use any of the code he wrote while at ZeniMax.

“No work I have ever done has been patented. ZeniMax owns the code that I wrote, but they don't own VR,” he said.

“Oculus uses zero lines of code that I wrote while under contract to ZeniMax.”

Oculus itself has also responded publicly to the accusations and has stated it will “prove that all of ZeniMax’s claims are false”.

In a seven-point rebuttal Oculus claimed it did not use a single line of ZeniMax code in any of its technology and Carmack had not taken any intellectual property from the publisher.

It also claimed that ZeniMax has canceled VR support for Doom 3 BFH after Oculus refused to give the publisher a stake in the company.

“ZeniMax did not pursue claims against Oculus for IP or technology, ZeniMax has never contributed any IP or technology to Oculus, and only after the Facebook deal was announced has Zenimax now made these claims through its lawyers,” read a statement.

“Despite the fact that the full source code for the Oculus SDK is available online (developer.oculusvr.com), ZeniMax has never identified any ‘stolen’ code or technology."