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Oculus: Zenimax seeking to correct a "massive missed opportunity"

Oculus: Zenimax seeking to correct a "massive missed opportunity"

Wed 25 Jun 2014 3:39pm GMT / 11:39am EDT / 8:39am PDT
TechnologyLegal

VR firm has filed an official response to Zenimax's lawsuit, noting that it's a "transparent attempt" to take advantage of sale to Facebook

After a war of words for some time on Twitter, in late May ZeniMax officially filed a lawsuit against Oculus VR and founder Palmer Luckey, alleging that Oculus misappropriated ZeniMax trade secrets relating to virtual reality technology. Today, the VR firm has filed its official response in the U.S. District Court for Northern Texas (sent to GamesIndustry International and other media), stating that ZeniMax "falsely claims ownership in Oculus VR technology in a transparent attempt to take advantage of the Oculus VR sale to Facebook."

The suit continues, "By deliberately misstating some facts and omitting others, ZeniMax makes the incredible assertion that it, a videogame 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. There is not a line of ZeniMax code or any of its technology in any Oculus VR product."

Oculus stresses that ZeniMax only now, after the Facebook acquisition of the VR company, is showing any interest in the technology and that the publisher could have made a move to secure the tech long ago before Facebook got involved.

"...ZeniMax had the full source code for the Oculus VR software for over a year and a half (having received it directly from Oculus VR well before it was even released publicly), and could have analyzed it online anytime (at developer.oculusvr.com). 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," the statement reads.

The 32-page response goes on to note that former id Software executive and current Oculus team member John Carmack warned Palmer Luckey that many people could misconstrue Luckey's invention as Carmack's work. "I am doing my best to not let anyone mistake the Rift as my work, but I'm sure someone is going to get it confused next week. I am sensitive to the fact that the press has a tendency to over-attribute things to me, because 'genius inventor' is such a convenient story hook," Carmack warned Luckey in an email prior to one of the Rift headset's first E3 demos.

Ultimately, Oculus asserts that ZeniMax is just looking to fix a "massive missed opportunity." In December 2012, Oculus actually sent its source code to ZeniMax and gave the publisher a number of opportunities to invest but ZeniMax never did; moreover, the company didn't make any claims about ownership of the technology or code until a year and half later following the Facebook acquisition. Oculus states that ZeniMax suffered no damages, and if it did, it was only due to its own negligence.

Oculus is demanding a jury trial in its official legal response. This battle will no doubt drag on for some time. We'll keep you posted on any new developments.

9 Comments

Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing

359 215 0.6
Personally, I'd say this is a lot about Zenimax's purchase of I'd not going the way they wanted.

John Carmack's is irrefutably, an amazing genius of 3D engines. They lost him, and most of the rest of ID

Ipad is taking forever to make games, which feel dated on the other side.

Doom 4 allegedly is being remade from scratch.

Basically, the things been a money pit, and they just list the single best asset. So they're looking to make up for those losses. Do they have a case? My gut says no, but they might. It's a sore loser shakedown in my opinion. That may change with new evidence, I also think that Zenimax's was correct that there is little money in Oculus games, and that the commercial uses of this awesome device will allow Oculus to finance that game R&D so that adding support is as cost effective as possible in the future.

I love VR, I LOVE 3D, I'm a huge supporter of the Rift. I just want it to succeed

And Oculus, use some of that mad cash for a John Carmack's keynote, I'm sorely missing it

Posted:4 months ago

#1

Steve Wetz Reviewer/Assistant Editor, Gamer's Glance

213 529 2.5
@Jeff,

I totally agree. If someone offered me the opportunity to buy id as a publisher, I'd jump at the chance. If they offered me the opportunity to buy id* as a publisher, I'd tell them to eff off.

Still, this all depends on the contract language for Carmack. I sincerely doubt that he waited until he left id before he started ANY work on the Rift.

*without John Carmack. (Is that even id?)

Posted:4 months ago

#2

Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer

482 293 0.6
I'm going to go the lone ranger route and say that I'm still not even vaguely convinced that VR is going to take off with the general public. I can see, in a year from now, a lot of people wondering what went wrong yet again with the VR push.

It's the definition of madness as far as I can see I.e. trying the same thing again and again and expecting a different outcome. Aside from the players in the VR space (by this I mean the likes of Carmack and Facebook) I'm seeing the same old bulky, motion sickness inducing, stupid looking, expensive headsets that have always been there. While us devs have jumped on the bandwagon. Mr Smith from No. 29 is still looking at these devices and laughing at the stupid geeks wearing them.

I'll love to be proven wrong but, even I'm not going to be gaming with an Occulus (and I had the original kickstarter dev kit) any time ever. I simply couldn't wear it for more than an hour max without getting a sweaty head, a bit of neck pain and motion sickness.

Posted:4 months ago

#3

Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer

578 322 0.6
These idiots let John Carmack go when he told them he wanted to work on VR. That's top-down command of the most stupid kind - but given the top-heavy nature of the game industry, I am not surprised at all.

They need to give their heads a shake, look in the mirror, admit their stupidity and move on.

Posted:4 months ago

#4

Matthew Hardy Studying Multimedia/Game Design, ITT Technical Institute

42 105 2.5
The road to innovation is paved with nay sayers like Peter.

Posted:4 months ago

#5

Tom Keresztes Programmer

685 340 0.5
While us devs have jumped on the bandwagon. Mr Smith from No. 29 is still looking at these devices and laughing at the stupid geeks wearing them.
I am sure Facebook wont mind causing a few good moments for Mr Smith. He probably will post the pictures on Facebook anyway.

Posted:4 months ago

#6

Nick Wofford Hobbyist

180 190 1.1
@Peter
The difference is in the language of the product. Oculus Rift isn't being promoted like past VR devices, which argued that they were complete and flawless. The OR is very much in limited release, and the company isn't making any outlandish claims about what it can do. They're not cannonballing into the pool like their predecessors did; they're sticking their toes in slowly.

Posted:4 months ago

#7

Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing

359 215 0.6
Imhate to saying, but Peter is right. It's not going to take off with the general public beyond an initial bubble of early adopters. Augmented reality will take off, but the second you start isolating people, or making them look goofy, interest craters.

I've been through the 3D situation. Among other factors, like the idiots who though 3D sports were a good idea beyond some highlight reels, seriously, it's going to be big one place: CAD and other design applications. And that's going to help pay for consumer applications for enthusiasts.

VR is awesome, but like the Wii, once the shiny wears off, interest will crater. In buying more games for its outside of the enthusiasts.

Me, I dream of affording a system that will play Star Citizen full res on Occulus. I figure right now it's about $3000.

Posted:4 months ago

#8
I suspect that if they can produce a consumer version which is sufficiently lightweight, comfortable and a little stylish (wouldnt hurt), and get enough dev support to eliminate many of the sickness issues for most, many here may be surprised by the uptake, consumer's like shiny new things, especially shiny new things that offer new experiences, and the reason it didn't take off in the past is the tech wasn't ready, not mention lack of investment, console makers may have decided that hardware upgrades will be done as far apart as they can get away with, but people often enjoy shiny new hardware as much as the games they play on it, as long as they think they're getting good value for money from it.

Posted:4 months ago

#9

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