John Carmack sues ZeniMax for $22.5 million

Carmack responds in latest twist of legal battles.

Last month, a jury awarded ZeniMax $500 million in a lawsuit against Oculus VR after the latter's co-founder Palmer Luckey violated a non-disclosure agreement with the former. It was also alleged that John Carmack—formerly of Bethesda-owned id Software, and now Oculus VR CTO—had stolen documents and a proprietary development tool from ZeniMax and, although ZeniMax first sought $4 billion, Oculus was ordered to pay $200 million for breaking the NDA, $50 million for copyright infringement, and $50 million for false designation. Oculus' co-founders Brendan Iribe and Palmer Luckey were forced to pay $150 million and $50 million respectively. 

John Carmack responded informally via Facebook thereafter—which ZeniMax in turn responded to—and has now sued ZeniMax formally for $22.5 million. 

As reported by the Dallas News (via Kotaku), the complaint filed on behalf of Carmack alleges ZeniMax failed to make the final payment tied to the $150 million acquisition of id Software in 2009. Carmack of course co-founded id in the '90s, and alleges he's still owed $22.5 million. "ZeniMax clearly doesn’t want to pay," alleges the complaint, which can be read here: 

In a prepared statement sent to UploadVR, ZeniMax responded to Carmack's claims: 

"We have reviewed John Carmack’s latest legal complaint which is completely without merit. We note that this is Mr. Carmack’s second complaint against ZeniMax. In the recently completed trial of ZeniMax Media Inc. et al v Oculus VR et al, in which Mr. Carmack  was a named Defendant, and in which ZeniMax was awarded $500 million in damages for misappropriation of its intellectual property, Carmack had counterclaimed, seeking damages for ZeniMax’s alleged violations of his employment agreement. 

"The jury flatly rejected Mr. Carmack’s complaint, and found for ZeniMax.  Mr. Carmack was personally found guilty by the jury of the theft of ZeniMax’s property, including thousands of confidential ZeniMax documents he secretly took when he quit his employment, and his theft of the entire source code to id’s latest game, RAGE, including the id tech 5 engine. 

"In addition to those crimes, it was revealed by an independent court-appointed computer forensics expert, that upon receiving notice of the Oculus lawsuit, the files on Mr. Carmack’s Oculus computer were intentionally wiped–destroying the evidence, and that a sworn affidavit Carmack filed with the Court denying the wiping was false. The wiping occurred right after Mr. Carmack researched on Google how to wipe a hard drive. And there was much more.

"Apparently lacking in remorse, and disregarding the evidence of his many faithless acts and violations of law, Mr. Carmack has decided to try again. We look forward to presenting our response to Mr. Carmack’s latest allegations in Court."

Another twist in the tail, then. Despite being granted $500 million previously perhaps the most important overarching point to consider here, as Andy reported last month, is that ZeniMax may eventually seek an injunction to "restrain Oculus and Facebook from their ongoing use of computer code that the jury found infringed ZeniMax’s copyrights". Should this be granted, sales of Oculus Rift would be halted until the code in question is reworked.