Oculus Responds To Zenimax Claims: Carmack’s Code Is Clean, Digging For Facebook Gold?

John Carmack’s former employer, Zenimax, went after the industry veteran last week claiming that important code that he used in helping to build the Oculus Rift VR headset is actually IP owned by Zenimax. The company also stated that it provided VR technology to Oculus VR’s Palmer Luckey and others over the past couple of years in support of the Oculus Rift’s development.

John Carmack

Carmack fired back on Twitter and Oculus VR denied the claims at the outset, but the company now has an official response. We present it in bulleted form because that’s how Oculus VR sent it to us.

-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.

It is terse, categorical, and unequivocal. That doesn’t mean the allegations aren’t true, or that there isn’t at least some truth to them, but generally if a company or an individual has something to hide, they’ll sidestep a bit.

Oculus Rift

This issue will surely have its day in court, but the timing of Zenimax’s allegations curiously line up with Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of Oculus VR. In other words, there’s a deeper pocket to reach into now.

Again, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Zenimax is completely wrong, and perhaps this is all because the company is incensed about the Facebook acquisition, but Zenimax is not looking especially rosy here; these allegations come off as sour grapes.