Oculus VR: ZeniMax Lawsuit an Attempt to Fix a "Massive Missed Opportunity"

The Oculus Rift maker files its response to the lawsuit, which it calls "a transparent attempt to take advantage of the Oculus VR sale to Facebook."

Having already issued a statement insisting the lawsuit ZeniMax filed against it "has no merit whatsoever," Oculus VR began its defense began today with a response to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Texas. A copy of the response shared by an Oculus PR representative--who labeled the lawsuit a "silly, money grabbing" one--states, "ZeniMax's Complaint falsely claims ownership in Oculus VR technology in a transparent attempt to take advantage of the Oculus VR sale to Facebook.

"By deliberately misstating some facts and omitting others, ZeniMax makes the incredible assertion that it, a video game software publishing company for personal computers and consoles like the Sony PlayStation, invented and developed a virtual reality hardware and software system. The truth is quite different."

The response goes on to claim that not a single line of code (nor any technology) belonging to ZeniMax is used in any of Oculus VR's products. It questions the timing of this lawsuit--which came just two months after Facebook acquired Oculus VR for $2 billion--noting that ZeniMax had access to the source code for Oculus VR's software "for over a year and a half."

"Until the Facebook deal, and the perceived chance for a quick payout, ZeniMax never raised any claim of infringement against Oculus VR, undoubtedly because ZeniMax never has contributed any intellectual property or technology to Oculus VR," Oculus says in its answer to ZeniMax's lawsuit.

The response lays out exactly how Oculus CTO John Carmack (who previously worked for id Software, which ZeniMax owns) came to work on the Oculus Rift, and how he has repeatedly dismissed incorrect assumptions that he had been responsible for creating it in recent years.

"ZeniMax had a golden opportunity to make an early investment in Oculus VR and chose to pass," Oculus says. "The lawsuit is nothing more than ZeniMax seeking to correct for a massive missed opportunity through the assertion of meritless litigation."

Oculus requests that a jury trial be held to deal with ZeniMax's allegations. ZeniMax's lawsuit had also asked for a jury trial.

Early last month, it was reported that ZeniMax--the owner of developers like Elder Scrolls maker Bethesda Softworks--was claiming the rights to the intellectual property used in the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. It alleged that it had "provided necessary VR technology and other valuable assistance" to Oculus VR, which soon after vehemently denied any such claims. Later in the month, ZeniMax officially filed suit, though it failed to identify the damages it was seeking.

Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Written By

Twitter/Xbox Live/PSN/Nintendo Network: TheSmokingManX

Discussion

37 comments
mbradk
mbradk

The assassins creed video link is redirecting me here... FIX YOUR STUFF GS.

meatz666
meatz666

I know who will win this:

The lawyers on both sides.

Deadlysyns87
Deadlysyns87

Zenimax CEO is a Former Lawyer i think they know what they are doing.

Hurvl
Hurvl

"lawsuit... a transparent attempt to take advantage of the Oculus VR sale to Facebook" Well, it sure could be seen as an opportunistic attempt, but it also seems stupid since Facebook has way more cash and lawyers that Zenimax. It's like Goliath vs Godzilla. Either way, this lawsuit will take a long while before it's over and won't amount to much in the end.

cratecruncher
cratecruncher

Isn't it customary for the loser in a settlement to pay all the legal costs for both sides?  If Zenimax is truly without grounds you'd think they'd be worried about being stuck with the cost of everyone lawyering up for this. If Carmack wasn't doing anything in VR for Id why was Oculus so interested in hiring him?  Oculus is going to fight this suit vehemently so no chance to settle out of court.  Quite the soap opera.  Can't wait for the next episode!

joalopes
joalopes

Look guys. Carmack and Oculus are right on this.

Let's look at the facts.

What was John Carmack actual job title and function at Zenimax?

Was he responsible for developing VR technology at Zenimax? 

And if so, from what perspective? Hardware development? How to prepare games for VR? VR SDKs?

The answer is simple. None of the above.

Carmack was exploring VR. Indeed he even adapted Doom to VR.

But as a developer what code does my company actually own? All the code I produce during my contract or just the code I produce for them?

If I use my spare time to explore VR, what right does my company have over that? 

So now. The proof.

http://www.theverge.com/gaming/2014/2/4/5378476/the-real-reason-john-carmack-left-id-software

And I quote : 

"His former studio, id Software, suggested as much in a statement at the time he left, saying that Carmack had "become interested in focusing on things other than game development at id."

Apparently, that's not quite true. The real reason that Carmack left id, he tells USA Today, was because he couldn't work on virtual reality games while he remained at the studio. Originally, Carmack had championed virtual reality while still at id, going so far as to promise that Doom 4 would support the technology. However, it now sounds like id Software parent company Zenimax Media had other ideas, and wouldn't agree to devote the resources to make Doom and Wolfenstein: The New Order into virtual reality games."


This article was written before the Facebook deal and all that. ZENIMAX in a statement actually confirms that John wanted to "focus on things other than game development at id."

Conclusion: Carmack wasn't working on VR for Zenimax. They weren't paying him to do that. 


EcksTheory
EcksTheory

More BS from the sellout OR crew. Psst, here's a tip. When your not full of it, you don't feel the need to keep going on about how you're not full of it.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

If people will read the history of this fiasco, Carmack was hired on to create code for some known and unknown IPs, after completion Zenimax showed not interest in furthering VR nor were the work Carmack did related to Oculus rift. Carmack wanted to pursue VR but Zenimax did not so he left to join OR. A company cannot claim a contracted employees future work after they have left - that would be like CBS claiming Game of Thrones just because George R R martin wrote some episodes of Beauty and the Beast back in the 80's, because it also contained fantasy elements. 

Now if Carmack would have taken a known product code or one established that would be different, but you are talking about Carmack who has written the code behind some of the biggest and best games, software, and toolsets in the gaming industry for decades. I mean can softdisk - the first company Carmack worked for claim the coding for games like Quake, Doom, wolfenstein, some of the most used and popular 3D physics used in video games. I

I worked at Kroger's for 5 years which helped get me through college, can they claim my 18yrs of RN nursing or my gaming computer side business or the stuff I sale out of my woodshop. 

I know this is the 'cost of doing business' but suing for profit even though these lawsuits are meaningless but knowing a settlement will most likely happen just to save costs not only hurts innovation but also adds to the cost of what gaming consumers pay. This country needs a huge over haul of copyright and patents. When disney can sue anyone 80yrs later for a character that is similar to Mickey and Zantac makers can extend original patents several times over preventing generics until it could take it to OTC is an abuse in lobbying. Original inventors need compensated but the inventor of the wheel cannot keep suing eternally. 

blutfahne
blutfahne

Can't have your lawyers just sitting around and doing nothing.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

Oculus probably did use code developed by people when they were at Zenimax.  Their only choice now is to bash Zenimax over and over to try and get them to drop the suit.

crushbrain
crushbrain

I like how his defense is to make accusations against ZeniMax instead of a grounded statement clearly showing the property is his and not ZeniMax's. Might give one the idea this guy doesn't have a defense.

MuffintopX
MuffintopX

Zenimax is smarter than to sue Oculus for no reason whatsoever, so I wonder what the hidden facts are behind the scenes of this case. They really believe they have something, you can't bluff an entire lawsuit, you'll have to show your hand.

pork7
pork7

Patent trolls are assholes. Unfortunately, they have the US politicians in their pocket....aw hell, who doesn't?

Deadlysyns87
Deadlysyns87

@Hurvl Goliath would lose he was just a human giant one breath attack from Godzilla he is dead.

olddadgamer
olddadgamer

@cratecruncher Depends on where you are.  Here, where I am, it's very rare to get legal costs in a lot of jury verdicts.  (Sadly, said the old trial lawyer) That being said, Zenimax is paying a righteous pile of cash to bring this suit with very little chance of recouping their WHOPPING legal fees even if they win (patent attorneys make..... so very much.....)  


I used to sue people for a living.  First thing I told any prospective client: "Suing someone is just as much fun as being sued.  You will never make enough to make you whole again."  

olddadgamer
olddadgamer

@joalopes Dude, you're relying on an article from the verge and usa today as legal grounds to settle a suit?  Ain't that easy.


For starters, anything id said about Carmack's state of mind is very likely inadmissible in the first place.  Pesky, pesky hearsay rule.


That and while he was "championing VR at id" did he do anything tangible? Tangible, mind you, as trade secret or patent? 



olddadgamer
olddadgamer

@EcksTheory Even if you AREN'T full of it, if I were a lawyer on either side of this case I'd be getting hoarse yelling at my client to shut up.

crushbrain
crushbrain

@jenovaschilld  It depends on the kind of contract he signed. In many cases, the work engineers do belongs entirely and exclusively to the one who contracted the work. So yes, they can claim contracted work after the employee leaves because the work isn't the employee's it is the company's - by contract. If ZeniMax has a strongly worded contract, then they may have a case. I haven't seen the contract. Apparently ZeniMax believes he could not be working on OR without violating such a contract.

BrassBullet
BrassBullet

@Thanatos2k At one time, yes, that was the nature of the partnership.  But just because the two companies shared tech doesn't mean one can claim ownership over the other.


The main complaint is that Luckry had an NDA that would prevent selling of the shared tech.  However, none of that early tech is still in use, as the source code shows, so the Facebook sale did not violate any agreement.  Its not cut and dry, but ultimately I don't think Bethesda has a valid claim.  They hadf one of the best minds in the industry and opportunity to be on ground floor of VR, but blew it.

Stiler
Stiler

@Thanatos2k The thing is, the source code is open, ANYONE Can view it, if it uses anything from zenimax they would have been able to look at the code and see for over a year and a half, but it doesn't and they haven't. 

 

olddadgamer
olddadgamer

@crushbrain For starters, WHAT is the property?  That's never entirely clear with patent/trade secret.  Sure, we talk about IP in these comments in regards to books or movies or games.  That's easy.  Game of Thrones is Game of Thrones.  But when you're talking about something so very complex like a Rift, there's hundreds of patents and a hundred more trade secrets in that thing, at least, and who's infringing on what is not that easy.

pelvist
pelvist

Why would he need to do that? The software in question has been openly available to anyone with an internet connection since DK1 released. If there is stolen code then proof of it would be there. This is something Oculus have brought up before yet so far Zenimax have failed to comment on that.

pelvist
pelvist

@MuffintopX Smart enough than to sue Oculus for no reason? They filed a law suit against Mojang over the name Scrolls for their card game.

purplestone6988
purplestone6988

@MuffintopX it says it in the last paragraph,ZeniMax--the owner of developers like Elder Scrolls maker Bethesda Softworks--was claiming the rights to the intellectual property used in the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. It alleged that it had "provided necessary VR technology and other valuable assistance" to Oculus VR, thats basically all the got. but if they are right its pretty big i'd say. However if they do win they better use that money for Fallout 4 and Elder Scrolls VI otherwise they can just shut the hell up.

Hurvl
Hurvl

@Deadlysyns87 @Hurvl Yeah and in this case Goliath is Zenimax. While big, it's nowhere near the size of Facebook.

cratecruncher
cratecruncher

@olddadgamer @cratecruncher  Zenimax is pretty aggressive generally.  Maybe they're just po'd Oculus poached one of their key people and want this to be a warning to others to stay away from their employees.  I hope they don't settle out of court.  I want the details.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@Stiler @Thanatos2k It's more complicated than that.  If they used the code at any point during the development they're still screwed.

dlCHIEF58
dlCHIEF58

@pelvist @MuffintopX

That was unfortunately necessary in order for them to maintain their trademark. If you do not actively protect your trademark, you stand the chance of losing it. Even though they knew it did not infringe upon their games, they still had to dispute it in order to keep their trademark protection active. 

Deadlysyns87
Deadlysyns87

@Hurvl @Deadlysyns87 They could still win in a case like this its not about how good your lawyers are as much as how good your proof is.

rjsvd
rjsvd

@dlCHIEF58 @pelvist @MuffintopX I disagree. The similarity was so far-fetched they had absolutely no need at all to file a lawsuit. The problem here is lawyers; probably offering to work for free, but to claim a chunk of money if they win, instigating these merit-less cases.