The Stack Archive

New ZeniMax filing claims Oculus Rift stolen

Tue 23 Aug 2016

Oculus Rift

An amended complaint filed by ZeniMax now openly states that John Carmack, co-founder of id Software and CTO of Oculus, stole documents that led to the subsequent creation of Oculus Rift. It also alleges that Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus, directed employees to get proprietary ZeniMax information from Carmack and use it to ‘develop, modify and tune’ the Oculus hardware, and that Palmer Luckey, who has been credited as the inventor of the Rift VR device, had only rudimentary programming skills and could not have developed the Rift without ZeniMax.

Without ZeniMax, the suit claims, the team at Oculus would have been unable to solve the technical challenges they faced in the creation of the Rift VR device.

The suit, filed in North Texas court in 2014 and amended last week, states that ZeniMax provided the hardware and software technology that Oculus needed to create the original software development kit for the Rift headset. Then, in 2013 when Carmack left ZeniMax and joined Oculus as CTO, they say that “Carmack secretly and illegally copied thousands of documents containing ZeniMax’s intellectual property from his computer at ZeniMax to a USB storage device, which he wrongfully took with him to Oculus.”

The suit also alleges that after he became an employee of Oculus, Carmack returned to ZeniMax to physically steal a customized tool he created along with other employees of ZeniMax to further develop virtual reality.

Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus VR, allegedly approached ZeniMax for assistance in 2012 with a prototype Rift headset, which the complaint says was ‘primitive’, and lacked the basic functions required for a viable VR gaming product. “At that time, the Rift was a crude prototype that lacked a head mount, virtual reality-specific software, integrated motion sensors, and other critical features and capabilities needed to create a viable product.”

The filing also states that Luckey “lacked the expertise, knowledge, training or resources to develop VR technology, and did not know how to create software needed for a VR presentation.” All key parties were fully informed of a non-disclosure agreement between Luckey and ZeniMax that stated, among other things, that ZeniMax was the full owner of critical VR technology used by Oculus. In spite of this, ZeniMax never received any compensation for the part it played in the development of Rift technology, nor was it included in the $2 billion purchase of Oculus by Facebook.

A spokesperson for responded to the allegations in the updated claim, stating, “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.”


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