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Zenimax says Carmack Stole Tech in Move to Oculus

by Eric Frederiksen | May 1, 2014May 1, 2014 5:30 pm PDT

Oculus DK2 003

The parent company behind Bethesda Softworks and Id Software, Zenimax Media, has taken legal action against Id Software founder and former employee John Carmack, Oculus VR and its parent, Facebook.

Zenimax alleges that Carmack developed technology at Id that would later become a part of the Oculus Rift headset.

“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 says. The company states it provided necessary technology by way of Carmack that helped “make the Oculus Rift a viable VR product.” It is also alleged that Oculus founder Palmer Luckey has acknowledged this in writing.

Oculus has issued a statement, saying that “when there’s this type of transaction, people come out of the woodwork with ridiculous and absurd claims.” Despite that statement, it sounds like ZeniMax has been going after Oculus for some time. Ars Technica writes that ZeniMax has been after them since August of 2012.

The gradual nature of Carmack’s transition from Id to Oculus is likely a complicating factor in this. Instead of leaving one for the other, he gradually ramped up his involvement with Oculus before leaving Id completely last November. If ZeniMax can prove that it has a claim to the work Carmack did before leaving, it could have a serious impact on Oculus VR.


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Eric Frederiksen

Eric Frederiksen has been a gamer since someone made the mistake of letting him play their Nintendo many years ago, pushing him to beg for his own,...


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