updated 11:03 am EDT, Thu May 1, 2014
ZeniMax claims John Carmack misappropriated company VR IP upon departure
The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset may be about to fall victim to a patent lawsuit. Game developer ZeniMax Media, previous employer of John Carmack, Oculus' chief technology officer, is claiming that Carmack appropriated ZeniMax's intellectual property related to virtual reality and took it with him to Oculus. Zenimax is claiming that the IP theft allowed Oculus to grow quickly, and take advantage of Facebook's $2 billion dollar buyout offer, which has yet to close.
ZeniMax says that it has "sent formal notice of its legal rights" to Oculus. Zenimax lawyers attest that "it is necessary to address these matters now and will take the necessary action to protect its interests." Sources familiar with the matter claim that the game developer is seeking compensation for the IP theft.
Following a rough ZeniMax virtual reality prototype headset demo in June of 2012, Oculus Rift developer Palmer Luckey founded parent company Oculus, and started developing prototypes of what would become the Oculus Rift. ZeniMax began seeking compensation in August 2012 for intellectual property it claimed being used without permission by Oculus. Negotiations were ongoing, with Oculus offering ZeniMax a small stake in the company, but no deal was reached.
Referring to the Facebook acquisition offer, an Oculus spokesperson claims that "when there's this type of transaction, people come out of the woodwork with ridiculous and absurd claims. We intend to vigorously defend Oculus and its investors to the fullest extent."