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ZeniMax Files Lawsuit Against Oculus

This dispute just became a bit more serious.

It seems ZeniMax and Oculus have not been able to find common ground behind-the-scenes, so the companies are possibly headed to court, as ZeniMax has officially filed a lawsuit against the VR maker.

I've gone ahead and uploaded the court documents filed in Texas today, if you wish to peruse the 46-page complaint.

The complaint outlines, from ZeniMax's perspective, the timeline of Oculus Rift's transition from hobby project to Facebook sale. It alleges the device could not have become a transformative technology without the work contributed by John Carmack and other employees at ZeniMax while all were employed at ZeniMax.

ZeniMax alleges Oculus founder Palmer Luckey had ongoing contact with Carmack and other ZeniMax employees ahead of the successful Kickstarter project and long after, and the technical knowhow provided to Luckey was instrumental in the Oculus Rift's development.

Carmack, a longtime VR evangelist, reportedly first discovered the Oculus Rift through an online forum, and received a prototype as early as April 2012, several months before the Kickstarter.

Much of the complaint focuses on the relationship between Carmack and Luckey, specifically highlighting the many times in which the two of them publicly acknowledged the contributions of one another to the Oculus Rift long ahead of Carmack actually joining the company.

Oculus responded to today's lawsuit with a brief statement.

"The lawsuit filed by ZeniMax has no merit whatsoever," the company said. "As we have previously said, ZeniMax did not contribute to any Oculus technology. Oculus will defend these claims vigorously."

Patrick Klepek on Google+
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Edited by DeadpanCakes

Oh..I thought this was done already

Posted by Midjet

Anyone think this is going to be fought tooth and nail? Does facebook have a history of settling when it comes to litigation?

Posted by Oldirtybearon

Can't wait to see where this goes, personally.

Posted by golguin

Well, lawyers gonna lawyer. What can you do?

Posted by EdgeZero

This all seems like it really depends on Carmack's contract, but Zenimax may have some merit to their case due to the messed up nature of the legal system.

Posted by TheHT

The game is on?

Posted by Visnes

Gonna be fun seeing how this pans out.

Posted by Alyssia

Good. I hope Facebook gets wrecked.

Posted by Monkeyman04

Dammit, Scoops! You had one job and that was to find away to get that Will Smith using Oculus picture into the news article somehow.

Posted by jimmyfenix

Oh its on brother

Edited by gerp

Oh man

Posted by gkhan

@midjet said:

Anyone think this is going to be fought tooth and nail? Does facebook have a history of settling when it comes to litigation?

I'm thinking that since Facebook has deep enough coffers, they'll probably fight it tooth and nail. They don't need to settle, and they didn't spend a billion dollars for a company only to need to share it with someone else, or pay them any money. It's going to be a fun year or two.

Posted by Generic_username

Who knows? Maybe Facebook's money will provide the legal system with a precedent for a "fuck you, just because I work for you, you don't own every single thing I come in contact with, that little clause in the contract should be illegal anyways" defense. That sounds potentially more beneficial to the world than anything else Facebook has ever done.

Posted by sbarre

The real VR wars start today

Posted by Rejizzle

For once I'm somewhat glad that Facebook bought Oculus. If Oculus was still independent an ongoing legal battle might've just sent them into bankruptcy.

Posted by Foggen

If Carmack is telling the truth (which I will assume until proven otherwise) no code he wrote while under contract with ZeniMax is used by Oculus. If that's the case, since there are few if any technology patents in Oculus VR there is really no IP to fight over. Carmack provided free help to Oculus when they were a hobbyist project, and ZeniMax is basically asserting ownership based on that equity-free relationship.

Posted by Hameyadea

So ZeniMax employees can't even be consulted with, because any and all personal opinions, impressions and suggestions are ZeniMax property as well?

Posted by SgtSphynx
Posted by Alyssia
Posted by Dezztroy

I hope this ends up with ZeniMax getting their shit kicked in by Facebook lawyers.

Edited by Ford_Dent

I figured Facebook would just quietly pay some money to make this go away. They've clearly got cash to burn, and the nature of most, if not all, employment contracts in the tech sector mean that if Zenimax can prove Carmack provided tech to Oculus before leaving Zenimax, they'll come out on top. Additionally a lot of places have strict rules about using "company resources" to work on outside projects (which can be as strict as getting in trouble for writing a book using your company's copy of MS Word).

Personally, I don't have much stake in this as I remain (and will continue to remain) insanely skeptical of VR as a thing that a significant majority of consumers will actually give a shit about. Wake me up when I can plug my brain directly into a computer.

EDIT: Whoops, pressed post early. AS I WAS SAYING: I don't have much stake in this whole mess, but it won't really do anything to the development of the Rift either way (I think the Rift is doomed to the same fate as 3D TVs, but that's another story). I wouldn't mind seeing Facebook take one on the chin for purely schadenfreude reasons, though.

Posted by RobertOrri

@dezztroy: Facebook is the good guy all of a sudden? Wow, that's unsettling.

Posted by Alyssia

@dezztroy: I hope this ends with Zenimax damaging Facebook and getting paid. Facebook has done nothing to garner support from anyone.

Edited by VooDooPC

No. Two media giants pissing in the wind. No. No.

Posted by Alyssia

@robertorri: People seem to think Facebook is some angelic force here all of a sudden just because Zenimax is the one initiating this fight.

Posted by punkxblaze

@voodoopc said:

No. Two media giants pissing in the wind. No. No.

Nothing is going to change... tomorrow.

Edited by mofoless

Let the twat twisting commence!!!

Posted by ZmillA

Zeni has something I think. Carmack worked on the rift while in Zeni owned buildings. According to contracts that gives Zeni right over what was worked on. Check the pdf.

Posted by TheManWithNoPlan

Dammit... just another roadblock in the long journey for the retail version of the Oculus being released. Really hope this is resolved in a concise manner and in a way that's beneficial to the Oculus team.

Posted by yyZiggurat

@robertorri: Maybe it isn't about good guys or bad guys but about one company thinking they're entitled to another company's (future) profits or tech. I hate Facebook and Zuckerberg and I think they're sleazy scumbags but that doesn't mean Zenimax is in the right here. From my know-nothing perspective, anyway.

Posted by Generic_username

@alyssia said:

@generic_username: They do if you sign a contract that says so.

No, there are cases where contracts aren't legally binding in certain aspects of them. Like, if the thing written in question is illegal or something. Not that what they wrote is illegal, but Facebook has the money to take this case pretty damn far.

Posted by Generic_username

@alyssia said:

@dezztroy: I hope this ends with Zenimax damaging Facebook and getting paid. Facebook has done nothing to garner support from anyone.

Yes, even when they have an opportunity to do something good, you should hope they fail at it just because you hate them, even though their success would be a good thing in this particular case.

I hate Facebook, too, you know. It doesn't mean I want there fucking offices to burn down with Zuckerburg still inside. The hostility you and others feel towards the company is ridiculous, and does more harm than good.

Posted by TheManWithNoPlan
@alyssia said:

@robertorri: People seem to think Facebook is some angelic force here all of a sudden just because Zenimax is the one initiating this fight.

No, I think people are just pulling for Oculus and hoping that the company that owns them can do something to deter Zenimax who for all intents and purposes come across as money grubbers.

Posted by Vuud

Whoever wins, this lawsuit will probably cost more than the Oculus' eventual profits.

Posted by Wikitoups

Dissapointed with that first pic, then I saw the second pic :)

Edited by EatAllGames

If there was any merit to this, they might have sued as soon as Carmack left Id to work there. Instead, they wait for Oculus to be acquired by a billion dollar social media company. This is them looking for a pay day. It is sad. It's almost worse than when the sued Mojang. At least then there was some semblance of a realistic timeline.

Edited by Jayzilla

Recoup that TESO scrilla son!

Posted by Luck702

I hope Facebook doesn't settle. They should counter-sue Zenimax back to the stone age just for wasting everyone's time.

Edited by colinjw

Handbags at 50 paces.

Posted by FreddieFiasco

Perhaps ZeniMax has justifiable legal grounds for this lawsuit, but the idea that a man's personal work is a company's property just because that man works for that company.. that idea disgusts me.

Edited by paulunga

@alyssia said:

@robertorri: People seem to think Facebook is some angelic force here all of a sudden just because Zenimax is the one initiating this fight.

No, they believe in Oculus and think Zenimax's claims have no merit. This has nothing to do with Facebook's involvement and your hate for it seems to cloud your judgement.

This is also the second time Zenimax did this after claiming all rights to the word "Scrolls" against Mojang. That's almost on the same level as King's trademark claims over the word "saga" against The Banner Saga.

Posted by 2HeadedNinja

@rejizzle said:

For once I'm somewhat glad that Facebook bought Oculus. If Oculus was still independent an ongoing legal battle might've just sent them into bankruptcy.

I'm pretty sure if they still were independent this would never have happend ... not until they finshed and made lots of money anyways.

Edited by Alyssia

@paulunga: Sounds to me the hope for VR is clouding your judgement. Carmack admitted he worked on these things while contracted under Zenimax. He also left the company on bad terms. None of us know enough to choose a side and say who is right here. But acting as if Facebook is saintly is ridiculous.

Also Fallout 4 is way more exciting then being able to view Facebook in VR.

Edited by ocelotfox

It's a very thorough complaint, and seems to present enough factual evidence to support the trade secret, copyright, breach of contract, and several other claims (although the trademark infringement claim seems like a huge leap of logic). Put simply, there should be enough for ZeniMax to survive summary judgment, which means both parties are going to go headlong into full civil discovery. I'd say we'll probably see a settlement within the next year, because the attorneys' fees and costs associated with this type of litigation can stretch into the millions within a few short months. We'll have to wait and see what the inevitable motion to dismiss and answer from Oculus and Palmer Luckey state.

As for those wondering why ZeniMax would wait to file...well, it's because the damages they claim to have suffered increased dramatically the minute that Facebook announced a $2 billion acquisition. Until that point, ZeniMax had not suffered any economic loss other than a potential equity stake in Oculus pursuant to the negotiations over IP rights. Thus, in order to claim the full scope of damages, ZeniMax had to wait for the inevitable buyout of Oculus or the point at which Oculus brought the Rift to commercial sale.

Posted by theQman121

@alyssia: I find this to be a pretty unlikely outcome. Sure people hate FB, but that doesn't imply any Oculus wrongdoing.

Posted by Scratch

This shit was bound to get nasty sooner or later. Oh well.

Edited by Darlan

As awesome as I'm sure the Oculus Rift is in person, I still can't help but feel they're fighting tooth and nail over something that will completely fall flat in mass market sales. There's just no way in hell they're going to sell that thing to Joe Walmart.

Posted by JonnyAshley

Any flashbacks to what happened when Silicon Knights tried to sue Epic?

Posted by Felgrim

@alyssia: I thought people were over this whole "view Facebook in VR" thing. How does that even make sense?

Posted by Doctor_Mummy

Can't we all just get along?

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