John Carmack's departure from id Software to Oculus seemed civil enough, but parent company ZeniMax Media has raised a legal claim that could spell trouble for the VR company. Lawyers for the company claim that Carmack took ZeniMax's intellectual property to Oculus VR, and further, that this tech helped get Oculus off the ground.
"It was only through the concerted efforts of Mr. Carmack, using technology developed over many years at, and owned by, ZeniMax, that [Oculus founder] Mr. Luckey was able to transform his garage-based pipe dream into a working reality," the lawyers stated in correspondence obtained by The Wall Street Journal.
Oculus denied the claim to Engadget. "It's unfortunate, but when there's this type of transaction, people come out of the woodwork with ridiculous and absurd claims," the company stated. "We intend to vigorously defend Oculus and its investors to the fullest extent."
In a lengthy statement, ZeniMax claims it provided Oculus with "necessary VR technology and other valuable assistance" in 2012 and 2013. It claims that proprietary technology, along with Carmack's expertise from being a ZeniMax employee, are owned by the company. They also state that Palmer Luckey of Oculus acknowledged the intellectual property in writing even before the Facebook acquisition, and that in that agreement Luckey agreed not to disclose the technology to any third parties without ZeniMax approval.
"Oculus has used and exploited ZeniMax's technology and intellectual property without authorization, compensation or credit to ZeniMax," the company statement reads. "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. ZeniMax believes it is necessary to address these matters now and will take the necessary action to protect its interests."