Oculus responds to claims that it stole VR tech from Fallout parent company

"We are disappointed but not surprised by ZeniMax's actions and we will prove that all of its claims are false," company says.

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The Facebook-owned Oculus VR--maker of the popular Oculus Rift virtual reality headset--today responded to last week's claims that it stole VR technology from Fallout and Elder Scrolls parent company ZeniMax.

In a statement, Oculus VR said: "We are disappointed but not surprised by ZeniMax’s actions and we will prove that all of its claims are false." The company also provided a list of key points they say are relevant to the situation.

  • There is not a line of Zenimax code or any of its technology in any Oculus products.
  • John Carmack did not take any intellectual property from ZeniMax.
  • ZeniMax has misstated the purposes and language of the ZeniMax non-disclosure agreement that Palmer Luckey signed.
  • A key reason that John permanently left ZeniMax in August of 2013 was that ZeniMax prevented John from working on VR, and stopped investing in VR games across the company.
  • ZeniMax canceled VR support for Doom 3 BFG when Oculus refused ZeniMax’s demands for a non-dilutable equity stake in Oculus.
  • ZeniMax did not pursue claims against Oculus for IP or technology, ZeniMax has never contributed any IP or technology to Oculus, and only after the Facebook deal was announced has ZeniMax now made these claims through its lawyers.
  • Despite the fact that the full source code for the Oculus SDK is available online (developer.oculusvr.com), ZeniMax has never identified any ‘stolen’ code or technology."

Last week, ZeniMax accused legendary game designer John Carmack of improperly taking intellectual property for what would become the Oculus Rift headset with him to Oculus VR when he joined the company last summer.

Oculus initially called the claims "absurd," and Carmack went on Twitter to say that, "No work I have ever done has been patented. ZeniMax owns the code that I wrote, but they don't own VR. Oculus uses zero lines of code that I wrote while under contract to ZeniMax."

We will of course continue to cover this story as it develops.

Leslie Moonves, CEO of GameSpot parent company CBS Corp., is a member of the ZeniMax board of directors.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Discussion

216 comments
therealdolemike
therealdolemike

zenimax is a garbage company. they are making claims to stuff when they think they can profit from it


Garm31
Garm31

How to make money fast in America.


Make baseless accusations to sue a rival company, because they thought of, or perfected something you spend years trying to, and failed miserably.

longestsprout
longestsprout

Uuhh... Anybody remember the scrolls fiasco?

TheCrapp
TheCrapp

ZeniMax instead of trying to claim they're "sort of owners" of the tech behind the Oculus VR, they should focus all their work and resources on bringing great quality games. Is like they're thinking this should be easy money for them, but i think this is all bullshit, but the bigger picture remains to be seen

hystavito
hystavito

From the article few days ago:

Finally, The Wall Street Journal says ZeniMax began seeking compensation for this intellectual property in August 2012, according to sources. Negotiations were reportedly held--on and off--for a period of about six months, and Oculus apparently even offered ZeniMax a "small equity stake." However, no deal was ever reached, sources said."

and this article:
"ZeniMax did not pursue claims against Oculus for IP or technology, ZeniMax has never contributed any IP or technology to Oculus, and only after the Facebook deal was announced has ZeniMax now made these claims through its lawyers."


That's kind of interesting.  Seems like if Zenimax really had began arguing this in 2012 it should be easy to prove, some documents or emails or something.  It wouldn't really matter to the case but it would prove for the public that Oculus' claim this only started after the Facebook deal.  Also, it would raise suspicion because Oculus offering Zenimax equity would suggest maybe Zenimax's claims had some merit.


"A key reason that John permanently left ZeniMax in August of 2013 was that ZeniMax prevented John from working on VR, and stopped investing in VR games across the company."

That actually sounds like a decent setup for a disgruntled employee who might be inclined to do some not ethical things :).  Just my personal initlal reaction upon reading it, not really evidence of anything.


I think the 2012 issue is the most interesting part, as I said it seems so easy to prove if it's true.  However The Wall Street Journal only cited it as being from sources, not Zenimax itself.  So it could be outside info that's just totally wrong.

Vodoo
Vodoo

There should be a law that punishes sueing over bullshit... like this. 

RevLux
RevLux

What an oddly worded quote by the Oculus V.R. team. I wonder why they "aren't surprised."

Side note: Thanks for the full disclosure Eddie. While your article didn't show any bias it's always good to get it all out there.

testross1
testross1

saw the oculus at f8. pretty cool.

freedomzealot
freedomzealot

Facebook Rift probably did steal it just like they stole all their backers money when they sold out to Facebook, hope they get their shady asses sued into bankruptcy.

surrealme
surrealme

"ZeniMax canceled VR support for Doom 3 BFG when Oculus refused ZeniMax’s demands for a non-dilutable equity stake in Oculus"

It will be interesting to see where this dispute goes, but that right there looks like a good indication of where Zenimax's head is at. Oculus would have been crazy to agree to that unless it did actually involve tech necessary to make the OR viable, and since they refused it's unlikely Zenimax had anything they needed other than Carmack's brain. If there's no patents at stake and no Zenimax code being used I'm not sure how they can claim their IP has been violated. 

DrKill09
DrKill09

I hope Oculus/Facebook lose this suit.

rawkstar007
rawkstar007

Why exactly are they "not surprised by Zenimax's actions?" Does Zenimax have a case?

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

So... once again, lawyers win, everyone else loses...?


Sounds about right!

EdmundKain4682
EdmundKain4682

You gotta be careful when dealing with Zenimax or Bethesda they seem kinda ruthless when it comes to possible copyright infringements and what not. which I guess is kinda ok. you kinda have to be in this day and age. Let just see what happens . truth comes out is all I can hope for in this. 

kryotech
kryotech

I sincerely doubt Zenimax's claims.

Angry_Mushroom
Angry_Mushroom

Thank god Oculus didn't steal any code from Zenimax.  Just think of all the horrific bugs they could have stolen. 

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

NDA is going to seal the deal against Oculus.  You didn't have any money before so that's why Zenimax didn't really care.  But now that you've sold out and are rolling in Facebook cash, it's time to pay the people who helped you get there.

kereke12
kereke12

I never knew ZeniMax made VR?

KimCheeWarriorX
KimCheeWarriorX

@longestsprout  ridiculous, kind of reminds me of another individual who thought he could sue anyone that used quite a common word in their games.

RageSet
RageSet

@Vodoo Not if ZeniMax's case against Oculus VR has merit. Regardless if you believe it or not, not all lawsuits (in this matter, one has not been filed yet) are frivolous. This case could very well be ZeniMax having sour grapes over the departure of Mr. Carmack to Oculus VR and wanting revenge OR it could be that Mr. Carmack did write code to improve the Oculus while still under contract at ZeniMax.

If it is the former, ZeniMax needs to "kick rocks" and go back to suing people over using the word scrolls in their game titles. If it the latter, Oculus VR needs to pay.  

s_h_a_d_o
s_h_a_d_o

@RevLux Frankly, nobody acquainted with Zenimax's reputation is surprised.

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

@freedomzealot  As a backer for a small company like that, you're basically backing them so they can in fact be bought out by a larger business.  You're living in la-la land if you think think ideas with so much potential will stay independent and stick to donations for their funding.... it's a big reason I don't bother with Kickstarers anyway,  they don't REALLY need your money in most cases, but you shouldn't feel ripped off if they make it big, and you supported them before that.  The early adopters planted the seeds of success, and you should be happy about that.

Darknight765
Darknight765

They might, it's easy to prove someone stole an IP especially when they were working on something similar for you.

shadow580
shadow580

@DrKill09  Why? Because you don't like Facebook? They dished out the cash but they're not the guys doing the work behind the Occulus Rift technology. ZeniMax is constantly sending their hyena lawyers after any vulnerable target simply because they can. It's about time they take some serious PR hit.

Zloth2
Zloth2

@rawkstar007 Because, as soon as any new technology starts getting money, the patent/trademark lawyers start going into full swing.

RevLux
RevLux

@rawkstar007 I wondered the same thing. They may have said that simply to deride Zenimax but that's not how many people will read it I'm afraid. Myself included.

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

@EdmundKain4682  Well they are the same company that tried to copyright the use of the word "scrolls"  in Mojangs Scrolls...  real dip shits for sure.

Matchews
Matchews

@kryotech I don't. The first word that stood out to me was "Facebook." A company that was derived from stealing an idea from two students in a college. The owner of Facebook stole the idea of Facebook from people that asked him to build the website for students that attended alumni colleges. The owner of Facebook wound up paying millions of dollars out to those people over the lawsuit that followed sometime there after. I don't trust any company owned by a thief. Sure, I use Facebook just like everyone else but I remember what they did and wouldn't put it past them to steal other ideas again.

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

@Thanatos2k  What does the NDA have to do with anything though...?  It's not at all related to Oculus potentially stealing Zenimax code.

Zloth2
Zloth2

@SingletreeAve Zenimax sues Oculus, thus Facebook sucks??  This is only a "reason" to people looking for an excuse to hate something.

Darknight765
Darknight765

No the jumped the gun. If they released the headset than sold out it would have been ok. They basically took the money to fun the project than cashed in before the project was even half way done. Should have skipped kickstarter and pitched the idea to FB.

tumblerpiston
tumblerpiston

@nl_skipper @EdmundKain4682  It's not the first time they've been caught grasping at straws. To me it's just big fat waste of time and it's unlikely that it'll go anywhere. It's like the people at Oculus stated, this has been going on for a while, so why make claims now?

kcisobderf
kcisobderf

@Matchews @kryotechYou should eat your own dogfood. I don't use Facebook for many reasons, but the one you cited is as good as any.

shadow580
shadow580

@Matchews @kryotech  who cares about Facebook? It's irrelevant to this matter. The VR technology existed long before Facebook ever stepped in. 

tumblerpiston
tumblerpiston

@Matchews @kryotech  While I get your sentiment, Oculus has been around for a while before the Facebook purchase, and the tech developed for it as well. That means that if they did steal something, as Zuckerberg did, that would mean they would have to do that post-purchase, and though I haven't been paying much close attention to Oculus, I don't think they've made a change that would fit ZeniMax's claim.

SingletreeAve
SingletreeAve

@Zloth2 @SingletreeAveRest assured that my dislike of Facebook predates the Oculus buyout by quite a while.  It pervades people's lives like a self-inflicted virus and causes as much harm as it does good in my opinion.  But that editorial comment aside, Oculus Rift was poised to revolutionize core gaming in the near future until Facebook got involved.  Now that Zuckerberg wants to deploy it to billions as a VR social networking app, ZeniMax decided they have a legal claim to the IP.  I don't know who's right and wrong in this dispute, but I do know that these legal elephants are likely to tie the tech up in court for a long time.  So don't count on using it for serious gaming anytime soon.  Gamers would be better off if Facebook had left well enough alone.  Just my opinion of course.  Time will tell.

AdrianWerner
AdrianWerner

@Darknight765 Umm..they did release the headset, two versions in fact. Backers did get all they were promised

rarson
rarson

@Darknight765  

What the hell are you talking about? They're still making the product. If anything, the Facebook deal allows them to deliver a BETTER product in LESS time. So you should be happy about it.

hystavito
hystavito

@Darknight765  I have made a similar comment many times.  It would have stung far less if it happened like a year from now or sometime after things were much further along.

RevLux
RevLux

@shadow580 @Matchews@kryotech The fact that VR tech existed before Facebook is also irrelevant to the matter. The alleged theft happened within the past 9months when John Carmack left ZeniMax to work at Oculus. ZeniMax alleges that "John Carmack improperly took intellectual property for what would become the Oculus Rift headset with him to Oculus VR when he joined the company."

shadow580
shadow580

@DrKill09 @Matchews @kryotech  Have you used Myspace? It may be a social network site but it's very different from Facebook.

suppaphly42
suppaphly42

@SingletreeAve @Zloth2 just to play the devil its a bit glib to blame FB as one of your statement said "ZeniMax decided they have a legal claim to the IP". so based on that, the fact we won't see a gaming ready device for a long time, is in fact ZeniMax"s fault. 

just sayin