ZeniMax claims rights to key Oculus tech developed by John Carmack
ZeniMax Media, which owns id Software and Bethesda Game Studios, sent formal notice to Oculus claiming key technology the virtual reality headset relies on were developed by John Carmack while he was still employed by at ZeniMax. ZeniMax claims that only with its help, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey “was able to transform his garage-based pipe dream into a working reality," and now it wants compensation.
In a statement to Gamasutra, the company said it 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 goes on to say that the technology Carmack developed while he was at the company and that is being used by Oculus is owned by ZeniMax. Furthermore, it claims that Luckey acknowledged in writing ZeniMax’s legal ownership of this intellectual property. Since Oculus allegedly used this technology to its financial gain in the form of Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition, ZeniMax believes it should be compensated.
"It's unfortunate, but when there's this type of transaction, people come out of the woodwork with ridiculous and absurd claims,” an Oculus representative told Gamasutra. “We intend to vigorously defend Oculus and its investors to the fullest extent."
Carmack himself addressed the ZeniMax claim on his Twitter feed.
No work I have ever done has been patented. Zenimax owns the code that I wrote, but they don't own VR.
— John Carmack (@ID_AA_Carmack) May 1, 2014
Carmack became Oculus VR’s Chief Technology Officer back in August 2013. For a short time he worked at both Oculus and id at the same time, but earlier this year chose not to renew his contract at id.