Oculus VR vehemently denies ZeniMax’s claim that its tech is stolen (full statement)

oculus rift 1

Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of virtual reality startup Oculus VR has already encountered its first hurdle, with Oculus’ Chief Technology Officer John Carmack accused of stealing key intellectual property from his former employer id Software, the studio that he co-founded.

Updated on 05-05-2014 by Will Fulton: We’ve added a quote from Carmack and Oculus VR’s full statement, both categorically denying Zenimax’s claim.

Carmack, who co-created the Doom and Wolfenstein 3D game franchises,  recently departed the developer and its parent company, ZeniMax, to become CTO for Oculus. In recent correspondence between ZeniMax and Oculus obtained by The Wall Street Journal, ZeniMax claims that Carmack engaged in extensive research and development of the technology used for the Oculus Rift VR headset while employed by the video game publisher. 

“The proprietary technology and know-how Mr. Carmack developed when he was a ZeniMax employee, and used by Oculus, are owned by ZeniMax,” the publisher claimed in a statement to Engadget. “Oculus has used and exploited ZeniMax’s technology and intellectual property without authorization, compensation or credit to ZeniMax. … ZeniMax believes it is necessary to address these matters now and will take the necessary action to protect its interests.”

Oculus has denied the allegations, insisting that the claim is a product of the highly publicized deal that brought the virtual reality company under Facebook’s stewardship.

An initial response from Oculus made the company’s stance clear: “It’s unfortunate, but 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.” This position was solidified in a larger statement in which it threw down the gauntlet and challenged ZeniMax to get specific in its claims by cheekily pointing out that the Oculus code is open source and available online. The full statement is included below:

“We are disappointed but not surprised by Zenimax’s actions and we will prove that all of its claims are false. 

In the meantime, we would like to clarify a few key points:

  • There is not a line of Zenimax code or any of its technology in any Oculus products. 
  • John Carmack did not take any intellectual property from Zenimax.
  • Zenimax has misstated the purposes and language of the Zenimax non-disclosure agreement that Palmer Luckey signed. 
  • A key reason that John permanently left Zenimax in August of 2013 was that Zenimax prevented John from working on VR, and stopped investing in VR games across the company.
  • Zenimax canceled VR support for Doom 3 BFG when Oculus refused Zenimax’s demands for a non-dilutable equity stake in Oculus.  
  • Zenimax did not pursue claims against Oculus for IP or technology, Zenimax has never contributed any IP or technology to Oculus, and only after the Facebook deal was announced has Zenimax now made these claims through its lawyers.
  • Despite the fact that the full source code for the Oculus SDK is available online (developer.oculusvr.com), Zenimax has never identified any ‘stolen’ code or technology.”

Carmack himself has also entered the fray, tweeting definitively that “Oculus uses zero lines of code that I wrote while under contract to Zenimax.”

While the issue remains confined to official correspondence and hasn’t moved into the legal arena yet, the high profile of the companies involved has attracted significant attention to the claims made by ZeniMax.

Article originally published on 05-01-2014.

Business

Apple loses battle to use Intel modems in Germany in latest clash with Qualcomm

Apple is following the Federal Trade Commission's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Social Media

Instagram test reveals direct messages may be coming to browsers

Instagram for the web has always been a minimalist affair compared to the feature-rich smartphone app, but in the last few years that's started to change. The latest news is that Instagram is considering adding direct messages.
Mobile

T-Mobile says Sprint merger will boost 5G speeds by up to 6 times

2019 will be a huge year for T-Mobile. Not only is a merger with Sprint likely, but T-Mobile is also in the midst of building out its next-generation mobile service. Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile 5G rollout.
Emerging Tech

Mars One Ventures’ promise of a one-way ticket to planet goes up in red dust

Mars One Ventures -- which once hoped to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars -- has filed for bankruptcy. It's the end of the road for a company that promised big, unfeasible things.
Gaming

Thrive in the nuclear apocalypse with our Metro Exodus survival guide

Metro Exodus is a difficult shooter, especially if you're new to the series' blend of stealth, action, and scavenging. Here is what you need to know to survive the nuclear apocalypse.
Gaming

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in Destiny 2: Forsaken

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.
Gaming

How do the revised Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles stack up?

Microsoft's new Xbox One S and Sony's PlayStation 4 "Slim" have bucked the generational gaming console trend. But which of these stopgap systems is worth spending your paycheck on?
Gaming

Here's our Champion's guide to picking the best character in Apex Legends

Apex Legends' use of heroes with different abilities helps separate it from other battle royale games. To help you choose your legend, we've put together a legend guide detailing their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
Gaming

Transport your Nintendo Switch in style with these nifty cases

The Nintendo Switch, which boasts both wired and handheld modes, needs a good case to ensure it doesn't get beat up while you're on the go. We scoured through dozens of Switch cases to bring you the best ones.
Gaming

These are the best weapons for taking down mutants and bandits in Metro Exodus

Metro Exodus is a very difficult game, and choosing the right weapons is key for surviving the post-apocalyptic Russia that 4A Games has created. These are the best weapons in Metro Exodus.
Gaming

Exotic Masterwork Weapons are in Destiny 2. Here's how to upgrade

Destiny 2's new Masterwork gear offers a number of special bonuses. Here is what you need to know about it, including how to find the gear in the game and even create it yourself.
Gaming

How to keep a PS4 in your pocket with the PlayStation Mobile app

Sony built the PlayStation 4 with smartphone and mobile integration in mind. Take a look at our guide for connecting your smartphone or tablet to a PS4, so you can get the most out of the system while on the go.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.