updated 02:15 pm EDT, Mon May 5, 2014
VR headset company clarifies points over game publisher's legal letters
Oculus VR has fired back at Zenimax Media in a statement today over claims that Oculus's Rift headset benefited from the appropriation of virtual reality intellectual property owned by Zenimax, allegedly taken by a former employee. The virtual reality work of former Id Software and Zenimax employee John Carmack, done while he was with the company, is said to have been used to advance the Rift headset at a rapid rate. Carmack currently holds the position of chief technology officer with Oculus VR.
The claim comes as Oculus awaits the closure of the $2 billion sale of the company to Facebook. "We are disappointed, but not surprised by Zenimax's actions, and will prove that all of its claims are false" says the statement. The company points out that "only after the Facebook deal was announced has Zenimax now made these claims through its lawyers." Oculus asserts that there isn't a basis in the claim, as Zenimax "misstated the purpose and language of the Zenimax's non-disclosure agreement that [Oculus CEO] Palmer Luckey signed."
Several points are addressed to debunk and clarify claims made by Zenimax Media -- including the allegation that the game publisher attempted to strong-arm Oculus by halting VR support for Doom 3 BFG when Zenimax was refused a non-dilutable equity stake in the new company. Further discontinuation of VR support across the company are said to have resulted in Carmack's departure from the company for Oculus.
Oculus and Carmack asserts that there are no lines of code from Zenimax or any technology from the company in Oculus products, nor was any IP taken by Carmack. Zenimax could have reviewed the entire source code of the Oculus SDK at any time, but has never identified any of the code as stolen, Oculus said.
After Zenimax formally issued notice of its legal rights to Oculus last week, Carmack was quick to respond to the claims over Twitter. In a series of tweets, Carmack briefly laid out his thoughts on the matter. "No work I have ever done has been patented. Zenimax owns the code that I wrote, but they don't own VR." He also added that Oculus doesn't use any code that he wrote while working as an employee of Zenimax.
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