Zenimax Amends Oculus Lawsuit To Include Allegations of IP Theft by John Carmack

Zenimax Amends Oculus Lawsuit To Include Allegations of IP Theft by John Carmack

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Updates made to Zenimax's suit against Oculus include accusations of theft against John Carmack and Palmer Luckey.

Back in May of 2014, Zenimax (the parent company of Bethesda and id Software) filed a lawsuit against Oculus VR alleging that the VR company had used stolen Zenimax technology to create its Oculus Rift headset. Since then, Facebook bought Oculus, and the lawsuit fell off everyone's radar. But the suit is still active, and a filing last week has brought a very interesting amendment to the suit to light.

The amendment alleges in part that former id Software employee John Carmack knowingly took information and VR tech from Zenimax right before he left the company to become the CTO at Oculus. The lawsuit states that,

"Instead of complying with his contract, during his last days at ZeniMax, he copied thousands of documents from a computer at ZeniMax to a USB storage device. He never returned those files or all copies of them after his employment with ZeniMax was terminated. In addition, after Carmack's employment with ZeniMax was terminated, he returned to ZeniMax's premises to take a customized tool for developing VR Technology belonging to ZeniMax that itself is part of ZeniMax's VR technology."

Zenimax also alleges that Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe falsely constructed the image of Palmer Luckey as the creator of the Oculus. "Oculus, at Iribe's direction, disseminated to the press the false and fanciful story that Luckey was the brilliant inventor of VR technology who had developed that technology in his parents' garage. In fact, that story was utterly and completely false: Luckey lacked the training, expertise, resources, or know-how to create commercially viable VR technology, his computer programming skills were rudimentary, and he relied on ZeniMax's computer program code and games to demonstrate the prototype Rift."

Elsewhere in the amended complaint, Zenimax alleges that when Facebook was in the process of acquiring Oculus, Oculus falsely claimed that it had full ownership of its IP. Zenimax claims that, "At the time those representations were made--and at the time the acquisition transaction subsequently closed--those representations were false, Oculus, Luckey, Iribe, and Carmack knew them to be false, and Facebook knew or had reason to know that they were false."

There's no request for a specific amount of damages in the suit at this point, with Zenimax saying that the amount will be determined at trial. "Defendants' misappropriation of ZeniMax's trade secrets has caused and will continue to cause damage to ZeniMax in an amount to be determined at trial."

As you might imagine, Oculus has cast doubt upon the claims in the suit. The company has issued a statement in response to the reports of the amendment to the suit, saying, "This complaint filed by ZeniMax is one-sided and conveys only ZeniMax's interpretation of the story. We continue to believe this case has no merit, and we will address all of ZeniMax's allegations in court."

There's obviously still a lot up in the air concerning this suit, and there's no word on when it might see the inside of a courtroom. It will eventually have to be resolved, but at this point it's little more than a he-said / she-said argument.

If you want to see all the claims made in the suit, you can read the full 60-page document here.

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From what I've gathered, this is just ZeniMax being salty about a missed big money business opportunity. Palmer Luckey was working on his VR tech literally years before he even met Carmack. And the "program code and games" they're talking about is a modded(yes, modded) version of Doom 3 Carmack made by himself that had rough VR headtracking. It is stupid to even state, but no, Oculus SDK doesn't have any part of Doom 3 in its code.

Screw ZeniMax anyway. If even half the stories about the way they treat development studios true, they're pure scumbags.

MC1980:
From what I've gathered, this is just ZeniMax being salty about a missed big money business opportunity. Palmer Luckey was working on his VR tech literally years before he even met Carmack. And the "program code and games" they're talking about is a modded(yes, modded) version of Doom 3 Carmack made by himself that had rough VR headtracking. It is stupid to even state, but no, Oculus SDK doesn't have any part of Doom 3 in its code.

Screw ZeniMax anyway. If even half the stories about the way they treat development studios true, they're pure scumbags.

Being honest if it was not for Beth and the elder scroll and now fallout Zenimax would cease to exist. I mean look at elder scroll online if you need more proof.

I predict that a swarm of Doomguys will surround the Zenimax building soon...

FalloutJack:
I predict that a swarm of Doomguys will surround the Zenimax building soon...

""The walls will keep them out, right?"
"Well, no, turns out the fucker can mod reality itself."
*noclip*
*idkfa*
"Shit"

09philj:

FalloutJack:
I predict that a swarm of Doomguys will surround the Zenimax building soon...

""The walls will keep them out, right?"
"Well, no, turns out the fucker can mod reality itself."
*noclip*
*idkfa*
"Shit"

*iddqd*

"FUCK!"

In all seriousness, I just think it'll happen to creep them the hell out. How would you react to find a dozen space marines just looming at you?

Carmack doesn't really need to steal code does he? I mean, he has created a lot of powerful tech from scratch. Him stealing, it doesn't track.

008Zulu:
Him stealing, it doesn't track.

He tried to steal a computer from his school's computer lab and when asked about it proudly proclaimed that he would have tried to do so again if the opportunity presented itself. XD

On the other hand I wonder if this was started by one of those nebulous contracts that state every single IP you create when employed at a company is instantly and incontestably theirs.

Given how long after the initial Occulus Kickstarter Carmack joined the enterprise, this seems like overreach on Zenimax's part at best.

My snider side is also going,

"Zenimax's VR technology-"
"Excuse me? Zenimax's what now? This thing we mysteriously only heard heads or tails of long after Occulus started suggesting VR might make another go of it?"

One has to hope Carmack wasn't foolish enough to sign anything that would give this case a chance.

008Zulu:
Carmack doesn't really need to steal code does he? I mean, he has created a lot of powerful tech from scratch. Him stealing, it doesn't track.

Even if Carmack himself created the code, if he did it when he was working for Zenimax or one of its subsidiaries, then the code belongs to Zenimax. Taking it with him to another company would constitute theft and probably breach of contract as well.

I'm not saying that's what happened, but that the idea of theft isn't completely outrageous.

Mortuorum:

008Zulu:
Carmack doesn't really need to steal code does he? I mean, he has created a lot of powerful tech from scratch. Him stealing, it doesn't track.

Even if Carmack himself created the code, if he did it when he was working for Zenimax or one of its subsidiaries, then the code belongs to Zenimax. Taking it with him to another company would constitute theft and probably breach of contract as well.

I'm not saying that's what happened, but that the idea of theft isn't completely outrageous.

Even if he say made it at home in his own time with tools he bought himself?

008Zulu:
Carmack doesn't really need to steal code does he? I mean, he has created a lot of powerful tech from scratch. Him stealing, it doesn't track.

Well you're not a programmer.

The Virtues of a Programmer are Lazy, Impatient , and Full of Hubris.

Stealing embodies all of those traits. Who wants to write new code for something that was done once already?

If you don't believe me that those are the attributes of a programmer just go look it up.

Now did he steal a few dollars worth of code like in Oracle vs Google, or did he steal something actually worth stealing? We'll have to see the source code when it gets entered into the public record, won't we?

Halyah:

Mortuorum:

008Zulu:
Carmack doesn't really need to steal code does he? I mean, he has created a lot of powerful tech from scratch. Him stealing, it doesn't track.

Even if Carmack himself created the code, if he did it when he was working for Zenimax or one of its subsidiaries, then the code belongs to Zenimax. Taking it with him to another company would constitute theft and probably breach of contract as well.

I'm not saying that's what happened, but that the idea of theft isn't completely outrageous.

Even if he say made it at home in his own time with tools he bought himself?

This really depends a lot on the contract and details. Now, I know nothing of what happened in this case and certainly nothing about Carmack's contract with Zenimax, but there are a lot of hooks as to how this kind of thing *could* belong to Zenimax. For instance, if I build my company's code on my home computer and then I later work on some technology my company could be interested on my home computer, how does this get defined as mine vs their's. If I already created a pattern of getting company work done at home on my home computer, it's a less strong argument that something I built on my home computer, at home, is purely my property.

In my own relationship with my company, I will never download any source-code, unique company resources or even examine pull requests on my company's stash server from my home computer. I also won't install any company provided software, such as Visual Studio, onto my home computer. Further, if there are any personal projects I take on, I won't install any non-openSource code onto one of my work machines that is related to such a project.

Mortuorum:

Even if Carmack himself created the code, if he did it when he was working for Zenimax or one of its subsidiaries, then the code belongs to Zenimax. Taking it with him to another company would constitute theft and probably breach of contract as well.

I'm not saying that's what happened, but that the idea of theft isn't completely outrageous.

Think you missed my point. He is one of the best coders around, he doesn't need to steal.

Mortuorum:

008Zulu:
Carmack doesn't really need to steal code does he? I mean, he has created a lot of powerful tech from scratch. Him stealing, it doesn't track.

Even if Carmack himself created the code, if he did it when he was working for Zenimax or one of its subsidiaries, then the code belongs to Zenimax. Taking it with him to another company would constitute theft and probably breach of contract as well.

I'm not saying that's what happened, but that the idea of theft isn't completely outrageous.

Like Zulu said, he's good at code. The only way that data went out the door was in his head, and then only to design his own for what HE wants, which is the same as making a thing that's LIKE a thing, but isn't the thing and therefore not illegal. And if you have to ask if using a benchmark to create another product is wrong, I direct you to the X-Box, which was clearly pioneered from the examination of a Playstation.

Mortuorum:

I'm not saying that's what happened, but that the idea of theft isn't completely outrageous.

well, the idea IS outrageous, its just legal. As in what the law states in this case is outrageous.

FalloutJack:
I direct you to the X-Box, which was clearly pioneered from the examination of a Playstation.

Actually... The Original Xbox was heavily inspired by the Dreamcast. They were just trying to beat the PS2, not mimic it. And they would have failed as well had it not been for Halo: CE saving the Xbox's ass.

Arnoxthe1:

FalloutJack:
I direct you to the X-Box, which was clearly pioneered from the examination of a Playstation.

Actually... The Original Xbox was heavily inspired by the Dreamcast. They were just trying to beat the PS2, not mimic it. And they would have failed as well had it not been for Halo: CE saving the Xbox's ass.

Funny, I don't see the resemblance in performance. After all, Dreamcast games were beautiful, enough for me to wish they survived longer. I always felt that X-Box resembled a Sony-like engine, where the graphics weren't quite as smoothe.

 

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