In May, ZeniMax filed a lawsuit against Palmer Luckey and his Oculus VR company. ZeniMax is claiming that Luckey’s Rift headset wouldn’t be a reality had it not been for the aid of John Carmack (who was at the time employed by ZeniMax) and ZeniMax’s own virtual reality research. The 55 page court document contains a plethora of alleged evidence in the form of emails between Carmack and Luckey; those emails make Luckey out to be in over his head with regard to the development of a viable virtual reality headset.
Now, Oculus VR has responded and has filed their defence document. They believe that ZeniMax’s litigious intentions are “a transparent attempt to take advantage of the Oculus VR sale to Facebook”.
Oculus VR has sent a copy of their defence statement to Eurogamer. In it, Oculus VR accuses ZeniMax of wanting to make a quick buck on the back of the Facebook-Oculus deal. Oculus VR ascertains that much of the evidence provided in ZeniMax’s initial court filing misstates facts and omits others.
“ZeniMax makes the incredible assertion that it, a video game software publishing company for personal computers and consoles like the Sony PlayStation, invented and developed a virtual reality hardware and software system.
The truth is quite different. There is not a line of ZeniMax code or any of its technology in any Oculus VR product. Indeed, ZeniMax had never identified any ‘stolen’ code or technology in any Oculus VR product, although ZeniMax had the full source code for the Oculus VR software for over a year and a half (having received it directly from Oculus VR well before it was even released publicly), and could have analyzed it online anytime (at developer.oculusvr.com).”
“Indeed, despite having the code to review for a year and a half, ZeniMax made no claim to it until after Facebook announced its acquisition of Oculus VR.”
Within ZeniMax’s original court filing, the company provides evidence that Luckey “blatant[ly] disregard[ed]” their request not to show any ZeniMax IP during the original Oculus Rift Kickstarter video. Doom 3: BFG Edition assets make an appearance in that video, and ZeniMax claims that Luckey even offered copies of the game to any backer that purchased a Rift prototype. ZeniMax said that there was no “commercial agreement” to this.
What’s interesting is that in Oculus VR’s defence filing, they claim that ZeniMax asked Luckey to delay the Kickstarter campaign to allow them to fund the Oculus Rift themselves. Luckey declined to do this and went on to obliterate the original Kickstarter goal of $250,000.
“While ZeniMax professed interest in funding future Oculus VR work,” the defence document states, “it did not raise any claim of infringement against Oculus VR.” In fact, Oculus VR is claiming that they had offered ZeniMax multiple chances to invest in their company, but ZeniMax never did.
“Ultimately, instead of investing in the company, ZeniMax demanded an outsized and non-dilutable stake in Oculus VR in supposed exchange for the publicity Carmack’s demonstrations and endorsement had generated.
“When Oculus VR declined, ZeniMax requested no compensation for any technological contributions, nor did it pursue its own virtual reality technology. Instead, it told Carmack to shut down all of his virtual reality research, and told others inside ZeniMax not to work on VR video game support. Carmack followed ZeniMax’s instruction and, later, with ZeniMax’s permission, published much of his virtual reality work to the world in an online white paper.”