Zenimax Has Amended Its Lawsuit Against Oculus VR With Heavier Accusations


The gloves are off in Zenimax's latest amendment to its lawsuit against Oculus VR. You may remember the case from back in 2014, when Zenimax alleged that Oculus had taken "proprietary technology" and/or "know-how" that John Carmack had developed while working at Zenimax. At the time, Carmack had denied such accusations with the following tweet.

Game Informer discovered yesterday that Zenimax has now amended its lawsuit with new allegations. Perhaps the most damning is the allegation that Palmer Luckey is not only not the creator of VR, but that he didn't even have the skills to create VR in the first place. Instead, Zenimax alleges that the story of the creation of VR that we're familiar with was invented by Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe.

The exact quote is as follows.

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. Nevertheless, this fraudulent tale was frequently reported in the media as fact. Luckey increasingly and falsely held himself out to the media and the public as the visionary developer of the Rift’s VR Technology, which had actually been developed by ZeniMax without any substantial contribution from Luckey.

Instead, the suit alleges that, following years and "tens of millions of dollars" in research and development, John Carmack began conducting research "to address technological issues associated with virtual reality" and eventually began corresponding with Palmer Luckey, who had developed "a primitive virtual reality headset that he called the 'Rift,' which featured a display with a wide field of view." At that point in time, the Rift merely featured a wide field of view, missing all other components of VR headsets that we are familiar with now. Nevertheless, Carmack believed this to be helpful and, after being given a copy of the prototype by Luckey, he and other Zenimax employees "literally transformed the Rift" into something more like the VR headsets that we know. Zenimax then disclosed the changes made to Luckey after entering a non-disclosure agreement with him and began to show the Rift at various events, during which it gained "considerable acclaim and attention." It is alleged that, recognizing this, Luckey began forming a plan to commercialize the Rift.

It is then alleged that, following Oculus VR's lack of success in creating a VR headset of its own, its CEO Brendan Iribe, who was newly-appointed at the time, "sought that expertise and know-how from ZeniMax." After dodging discussions of how Oculus VR would compensate Zenimax for its help in the matter, Iribe allegedly told Oculus employees to "continue to obtain hardware and software technology from Carmack."

Zenimax also alleges that, after Carmack's employment contract expired, he took many company secrets with him to Oculus in the following quote.

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.

Furthermore, it is alleged that Facebook was aware of the non-disclosure agreement that Palmer Luckey had signed before Zenimax disclosed the changes made to the Rift and went through with the purchase of Oculus VR despite that.

You can find the full lawsuit embedded below.

Matt's Take:

With as many direct, specific accusations as there are in the amended lawsuit, I imagine that we will be hearing about it for quite some time.

Zenimax v Oculus - Amended Complaint by Michael Futter on Scribd