Well now, this is certainly awkward. When John Carmack announced that he would be splitting his time between Id and the Oculus Rift, people weren’t that surprised thanks to Carmack’s initial enthusiasm for Palmer Luckey’s VR headset. Then, when Carmack announced his resignation from Id and subsequent full time employment with Ouclus VR, people still weren’t exactly that surprised. It did, however, feel like a bit of an end to an era as Carmack (along with Romero) were always synonymous with Id.
Now it turns out that ZeniMax, parent company of Id Software, is pursuing legal action against John Carmack. They’re alleging that Carmack stole intellectual property pertaining to his research into VR that he conducted while still at Id.
According to ZeniMax’s official statement:
“ZeniMax’s intellectual property rights arise by reason of extensive VR research and development works done over a number of years by John Carmack while a ZeniMax employee, and others. ZeniMax provided necessary VR technology and other valuable assistance to Palmer Luckey and other Oculus employees in 2012 and 2013 to make the Oculus Rift a viable VR product, superior to other VR market offerings.
Oculus has used and exploited ZeniMax’s technology and intellectual property without authorization, compensation or credit to ZeniMax. ZeniMax and Oculus previously attempted to reach an agreement whereby ZeniMax would be compensated for its intellectual property through equity ownership in Oculus but were unable to reach a satisfactory resolution.”
What’s interesting is ZeniMax’ insinuation that they were supposed to get 50% ownership of Oculus VR. This all sounds a bit like ZeniMax scrambling to get a piece of the $2 billion pie that Facebook just baked for Oculus VR. If it’s true that Carmack stole intellectual property, then things could get interesting. Alternatively, if this turns out to be a loud of rubbish, then ZeniMax is just going to end up looking like every other company that wants a piece of a pie that they figured they were entitled to.
Naturally Carmack is disputing ZeniMax’s claim:
No work I have ever done has been patented. Zenimax owns the code that I wrote, but they don’t own VR.