Fallout parent company officially sues Oculus VR and Palmer Luckey [UPDATE]

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

[UPDATE] Following the publication of this story, Oculus VR issued a statement regarding ZeniMax's lawsuit.

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

The original story is below.

Earlier this month, ZeniMax accused Oculus VR of stealing virtual reality technology that would later become popular headset Oculus Rift, which Facebook purchased for $2 billion just two months ago. Now, the Fallout and Elder Scrolls parent company has filed an official lawsuit against Oculus VR and 21-year-old founder Palmer Luckey.

The suit accuses Oculus VR of "illegally misappropriating ZeniMax trade secrets relating to virtual reality technology, and infringing ZeniMax copyrights and trademarks." It also accuses Oculus VR of breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and unfair competition. The suit, some 55 pages in total, was filed today in U.S. District Court in Texas.

"Luckey has held himself out to the public as the visionary developer of virtual reality technology, when in fact the key technology Luckey used to establish Oculus was developed by ZeniMax" -- ZeniMax

ZeniMax further claims that defendants Oculus VR and Luckey unlawfully exploited ZeniMax's intellectual property, including trade secrets, copyrighted computer code, and "technical know-how" related to virtual reality.

Legendary game designer John Carmack is at the heart of the matter. He worked on virtual reality technology while employed at id Software, and ZeniMax claims that this technology, "developed by ZeniMax after years of research and investment," should belong to them.

The suit goes on to say that defendants "refused all requests" from ZeniMax to compensate them and that they continue to use ZeniMax's intellectual property "without authorization."

"Luckey has held himself out to the public as the visionary developer of virtual reality technology, when in fact the key technology Luckey used to establish Oculus was developed by ZeniMax," ZeniMax said in a statement.

In a statement earlier this month, Oculus VR said it is confident that it can prove that "all of [ZeniMax's] claims are false." The company went on to say at the time that there is not a line of ZeniMax code or any of its technology in Oculus products and that Carmack did not take any intellectual property from ZeniMax. We have reached out to an Oculus VR representative for comment regarding ZeniMax's lawsuit.

"Intellectual property forms the foundation of our business," ZeniMax CEO Robert Altman said in a statement. "We cannot ignore the unlawful exploitation of intellectual property that we develop and own, nor will we allow misappropriation and infringement to go unaddressed."

"ZeniMax and id Software take their intellectual property rights seriously," ZeniMax's legal counsel Anthony Sammi said in a statement. "We now look to the federal courts and will pursue all appropriate measures available under the law to rectify defendants' egregious conduct."

ZeniMax is seeking unspecified damages and a trial by jury for the case. We will continue to monitor this story as it develops.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
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Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.
184 comments
tehpopulator
tehpopulator

The Social Network is getting a sequel! Yayyyyyy!!

Doomsday_Horror
Doomsday_Horror

It doesn't matter if ZeniMax "did not contribute" anything to Oculus, if they own a patent, they own a patent.

Vodoo
Vodoo

I didn't know Zenimax owned iD also ; thought it was just Bethesda.

Sucks for Facebook that they just spent 2 billion to buy Oculus and now they might not even own the technology.

What goes around, comes around Facebook. You've been selling peoples' info and now you're gonna lose your 2 billion dollar investment. I couldn't be more pleased.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

It'll be fun to see the emails when they come out after the subpeonas.  How the Oculus people were wheeling and dealing shadily behind the scenes.


I'm waiting for the one where they call all their Kickstarter backers "suckers"

Rusmurf
Rusmurf

Like Oculus VR is any better then Zenimax, after crapping all over their crowdfunders.

JimmeyBurrows
JimmeyBurrows

Do Zenimax even have anything to show for all this work that "should be theirs"? Seems to me like they failed to give the go ahead for anything worthwhile and when everyone left to make something they got all pissy and wanted in on the action... 

How long before peoples thoughts and ideas while working for a company belong to the company?


I'm almost tempted to say that copyright laws would be better off not existing, at least then people would have to actually do something with things they "own" and as well as that they'd have to make better products than other people ripping them off.

ericb37
ericb37

zenimax should go back to making B rate MMOs

paul_thomas
paul_thomas

Zenimax is just looking for another revenue stream since they dropped the ball with Elder Scrolls Online... Here's an idea! Try giving consumers what they actually want instead of trying to force garbage down their throats for subscription fees.

wallacom
wallacom

ZeniMax was probably never going to sue them, but after OR became a sellout, I guess something changed. Maybe ZeniMax were backers in the kickstart as well.

amaneuvering
amaneuvering

The only thing Oculus "stole" from ZeniMax was John Carmack.

jhcho2
jhcho2

Zenimax's Elder Scrolls Online sucks. So they're trying to look for other ways to get some cash

turbojugend16
turbojugend16

I dislike zenimax - the epitome of a greedy corporation, and I also dislike bugthesda - the makers of bugged out, unfinished games. And Oculus VR? Those sellouts...

Dragon_Nexus
Dragon_Nexus

And they'll settle out of court for a significant sum, people will hate Zenimax for a while but buy Fallout 4 and Elder Scrolls 6 regardless and Oculus Rift will come out with a slightly higher price tag to cope with the hardware licensing fees they pay to Zenimax and the world will move on.

Reuwsaat
Reuwsaat

I don't know about this case, but ZeniMax sure has a lack of credibility regarding what they call "theirs", over the years I've seen so many absolute BS money-grabbing legal suits from them, it makes me sad that such company has the reins over Bethesda, and I trully hope that they remain neutral to this pile of sh**, I'd hate to miss an oportunity of experiencing a Bethesda game with the Oculus.

suppaphly42
suppaphly42

now maybe i don't know anything about law, but if a guy works for you (under contract) and writes code for someone else while still (under contract) and then show cases, the thing that uses code you wrote, while (under contract) in a booth with the logo of the company you are still (under contract) with and then leaves the company but continues to work on the thing that was started while ( under contract ) with your company and then says it uses no code i wrote while (under contract) with you. that sounds like a winnable lawsuit to me

and yes i know that luckey sent him a unit that didn't work very well to carmack and he wrote code that made it work better but he was still working for and (under contract) with zenimax at the time   who were also working on VR software at the time and it was carmack who wrote it  

kachan64
kachan64

You know what made me thinking is that every company that files a lawsuit has being very quiet until 6 month later like "you have stole part of something, bla bla bla" wish they stop this and confess themselves.

Barighm
Barighm

Meh. When billions of dollars exchange hands, there will always be someone demanding they deserve some of it.

thermalmotion
thermalmotion

Bethesda Softworks should cut Zenimax loose, regardless of who the parent company is. Zenimax is just mucking things up.

Cuthbert1970
Cuthbert1970

"ZeniMax is seeking unspecified damages and a trial by jury for the case."

A jury?? Really???!! 

---Cipher---
---Cipher---

I really hope they decide to rename the OR "Occulus Scrolls" out of spite. It's really hard to feel bad for Zeni after they tried to say they owned the word "scrolls".

Deadlysyns87
Deadlysyns87

Zenimax founded by a Lawyer you be the judge.

jer_1
jer_1

Sigh, I so hate corporations. They're screwing this planet up in every possible way.

MrMilkmann
MrMilkmann

I hope Oculus dies because of this.

Unetteh
Unetteh

I can understand them needing quick money after watching TESO crash and burn.

Shewgenja
Shewgenja

Goddamnit Zenimax, spend your millions on Fallout 4.

bouff
bouff

I don't get it, why now (ok a month ago)? people have know about OR for ages. I wander if it has anything to do with FB paying all that money?

crazynotstupid
crazynotstupid

To be honest its almost impossible for outsiders to tell who is in the right here. But Occulus does have a few things going for them. Firstly it seems unlikely that Occulus would launch such a big project without having confidence in the authenticity of their resources.There's also the question that if ZeniMax indeed owns those intellectual properties then what are they doing with them ? Where's their own product ? Even if ZeniMax is actually right here they'll have a lot of trouble getting people to buy their story.


winjin_tam
winjin_tam

@JimmeyBurrows  Also, they seem to own really boring companies nowadays. ID software didn't make anything good in years, and Bethesda made the Oblivion, Fallout 3 and Skyrim, which were as empty and illogical and boring as meth addict's head.

Doomerang
Doomerang

@Morphine_OD  Just because Carmack and the others were headhunted does not mean that the Oculus group used the Zenimax coding. That's flawed logic, and is the same logic that Zenimax is using here. 

feathers632
feathers632

@suppaphly42  Oculus rift isn't a game, it's hardware and firmware and that has no relation to what John Carmack was doing while he worked there.

emperiox
emperiox

@Cuthbert1970 I'd imagine that is because they want sympathy. With a bench trial the judge gets to make the decisions. Obviously they don't think they have a case.

---Cipher---
---Cipher---

@jer_1 Hater, I'm hoping they create a Shadowrun future! I think that would be a rather entertaining place to live. Now to bring back magic somehow....

azzras
azzras

@bouff They've been in a battle for over a year now.  They couldn't settle this between both companies, so ZM took it to court.

BamaGoatt
BamaGoatt

@bouff  it is not just now this lawsuit was originally filed over 2 years ago. OR offered zenimax stake in OR's company so they obviously know they stole something from them. The real question is why the Facebook sale happened could it be to hire top of the line lawyers?

reacher42
reacher42

@bouff  Yeah it has everything to do with that.  Suing someone is a very expensiveness process and you want to make sure that there is money to at the very least cover the legal fees, than make sure there is enough a decent damage settlement. Basically you just don't sue poor people cause it will cost more money then you gain.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@crazynotstupid You vastly overestimate the rigor of a startup.  You think people were poring over the legal ramifications of their work?  No, they were hacking and hacking and staying up all night working.

Kunakai
Kunakai

@tableofjapan  No one likes Facebook, but then again, no one likes Microsoft or Sony. The moral of this story is that a company nobody likes can be very capable of making something everyone loves. 

strahd01
strahd01

@tableofjapan  So The VR HMD for open platform PC is gonna be complete crap, because you think you might have to log into a facebook account to even put it on your head (spoilers you won't) but the Console exclusive VR HMD that does require logging into a Sony account before playing a game is worth waiting for? 


Brain = Exploded

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

@Doomerang @Morphine_OD  no dude, neither you, nor me know the substance of the suit, I know that when people leave they take some their code with them, I think if Zenimax didn't think it had a chance to win this suit, they wouldn't file it. Obviously there is more to it than this. Obviously their claims could be unfair, but that's why there is a court.

suppaphly42
suppaphly42

@feathers632 @suppaphly42 where did i say it was a game i know what the OR is and have been following it for some time now. it also has software that makes it work and that is what i'm talking about
 

also if it has no relation to what he was doing there why is he the main focus in the lawsuit 

Barighm
Barighm

@---Cipher--- @jer_1If you talk to the right people, you'll realize it never really went away. Heck, many of those people will claim it's the secret for how so many corporate clowns and rich people get rich in the first place.

Glad I stopped working at that new age bookshop.

xJackelx
xJackelx

@BamaGoatt @bouff  The basis was this: "John Carmack provided technology and information to Oculus before he left ZeniMax subsidiary id Software for the virtual reality company last year. "

The lawsuit filed in 2012 isn't what's being presented here. ZeniMax is accusing Oculus of using code that was developed prior to Carmack leaving and thus getting the Rift to where it is today.  

Lhomity
Lhomity

@Kunakai @tableofjapan "no one likes Microsoft or Sony."

You don't read too many comments in Sony or Microsoft articles, do you?

Actually, I envy you.

BamaGoatt
BamaGoatt

@xJackelx  it is the same lawsuit they just added new things to it happens all the time.