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Zenimax alleges John Carmack stole documents to help Oculus develop Rift

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Programmer extraordinaire and former Id Software poster boy John Carmack has been under fire from publishing giant ZeniMax for more than two years now, facing claims that his new employer Oculus knowingly lifted technology and research from ZeniMax in order to create the Rift. At the time, Oculus vehemently denied that the Rift, or any of its other products, had even “a line of ZeniMax” code, but ZeniMax’s latest allegations call that statement into question.

In a new complaint (obtained by Game Informer’s Mike Futter) filed by ZeniMax against Oculus, parent company Facebook, Carmack, and Oculus co-founders Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe, the company alleges that Carmack stole “thousands” of ZeniMax documents from his work computer via a USB device and delivered them to Oculus. These documents allegedly contained ZeniMax’s intellectual property, which would violate his employee termination agreement.

“After he had joined Oculus, Carmack returned to ZeniMax’s premises and took without permission a customized tool that Carmack and other ZeniMax personnel had developed for work on virtual reality,” the complaint adds.

Oculus, naturally, views the lawsuit as nothing more than a witch hunt. Back when it began in 2014, the VR giant stated that ZeniMax had never been able to actually identify specific stolen code in any of Oculus’ products, and that Carmack’s reason for leaving the company was, in fact, because ZeniMax had “stopped investing” in VR games. It also asserted that Carmack never took “any intellectual property” from his former employer, and Carmack reiterated this point himself.

The latter point, concerning ZeniMax’s alleged lack of investment in VR, no longer seems true. Both Doom and Fallout 4 are making their way to virtual reality, but they will be on the Rift’s direct and more expensive competitor, the HTC Vive. It’s unclear if there are plans to bring the games to other VR platforms at some point in the future.

“This complaint filed by ZeniMax is one-sided and conveys only ZeniMax’s interpretation of the story,” a representative from Oculus told Digital Trends. “We continue to believe this case has no merit, and we will address all of ZeniMax’s allegations in court.”

Updated 8/24: Added quote from Oculus representative.

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