Zenimax sues Oculus VR

Written by David Hing

May 22, 2014 // 11:20 a.m.

Tags: #john-carmack #oculus-vr #rift #zenimax

Zenimax, the owner of Id Software and Bethesda Game Studios, is taking virtual reality pioneer Oculus VR and its founder Palmer Luckey to court for using the company’s trade secrets and infringing copyright and trademarks.

In an announcement from the publisher and developer, Zenimax states that the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset has been built on Zenimax’s intellectual property since the device’s inception.

Zenimax has allegedly been investing ‘tens of millions of dollars’ into research and development of immersive technologies such as virtual reality for many years and according to Zenimax’s court filing, Oculus VR approached Zenimax for help in 2012 to help develop the Rift become a more viable device. The company subsequently received help from Id luminary John Carmack using prior research conducted by Zenimax.

The company apparently also provided support and code to Oculus VR under a nondisclosure agreement to help them out. Oculus then attempted to gain a license to use this code but did not accept Zenimax’s price tag for these rights.

As a result of this, Zenimax claims that Oculus VR attempted to gain the virtual reality expertise through the recruitment of some of its employees including Carmack, who joined Oculus VR last year. Several other Id Software developers have also flocked to Oculus since Carmack left.

’All efforts by Zenimax to resolve this matter amicably have been unsuccessful,’ reads a statement from Zenimax. ’Luckey has held himself out to the public as the visionary developer of virtual reality technology, when in fact the key technology Luckey used to establish Oculus was developed by Zenimax.’

In response to the claims, Oculus VR has issued a statement of its own to several outlets saying that the Zenimax lawsuit has no merit whatsoever.

’As we have previously said, Zenimax did not contribute to any Oculus technology. Oculus will defend these claims vigorously.’ said an Oculus VR spokesperson.

The Oculus Rift came to the public’s attention through a successful Kickstarter campaign and has attracted a lot of developer support from several studios. Earlier this year, the company was acquired by Facebook in a $2bn deal.

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