Yeesh. One has to wonder: "Can't we all just get along?" Evidently not, as John Carmack (yes, that John Carmack
) is now staring down a lawsuit from his previous employer, which suggests that he stole precious information on his way out. Carmack has of course landed at Oculus, which has since been acquired by Facebook prior to the Rift virtual reality headset ever truly launching to the public. Clearly, Oculus has blown up big, while Zenimax (Carmack's previous employer) has seen much less of the limelight.
Reports suggest that Carmack is facing a suit which alleges that he stole intellectual property and then used it to power Oculus Rift. In essence, Zenimax suggests that property belonging to it now resides in Oculus, and that's just unfair. A Zenimax spokesperson was quoted as saying the following:
"ZeniMax confirms it recently sent formal notice of its legal rights to Oculus concerning its ownership of key technology used by Oculus to develop and market the Oculus Rift. ZeniMax’s technology may not be licensed, transferred or sold without ZeniMax Media’s approval. 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. The proprietary technology and know-how Mr. Carmack developed when he was a ZeniMax employee, and used by Oculus, are owned by ZeniMax."
Oculus denies the claims, stating: "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."
Beyond that, Carmack himself took to Twitter
to say similar: "No work I have ever done has been patented. Zenimax owns the code that I wrote, but they don't own VR."
Either way, we doubt this whole mess is going away anytime soon, and at the very least, Zenimax probably hopes to settle for a princely sum given the $2 billion
that Facebook just forked over to buy Oculus.