Feeds

ZeniMax lobs sueball at Oculus, says space cowboy Carmack rustled its code

Games maker wants slice of Facebook's fortune as compensation

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

ZeniMax Media is suing virty headgear maker Oculus, claiming the start-up's CTO John Carmack is using intellectual property he developed for the games manufacturer in his new company's fancy glasses.

Zenimax owns id Software, where Carmack spent years developing such classics as Doom and Quake before starting failed rocketry business Armadillo Aerospace. ZeniMax's lawsuit claims that while in its employ, Carmack worked on a prototype Oculus headset and developed code that he took with him when he left to join the virtual-reality startup.

The gaming firm "recently sent formal notice of its legal rights to Oculus concerning its ownership of key technology used by Oculus to develop and market the Oculus Rift," it told the Washington Post, saying it would take "necessary action to protect its interests."

When Carmack left ZeniMax last year, the company claims that Oculus cofounder Palmer Luckey told it in writing that any intellectual property developed by the space cowboy belonged to his former employers.

"The proprietary technology and know-how Mr. Carmack developed when he was a ZeniMax employee, and used by Oculus, are owned by ZeniMax," Luckey is claimed to have written, along with a promise not to share any code with third-parties without ZeniMax's approval.

Since then the two companies have been arguing over how much of a stake in Oculus that the IP in question will buy ZeniMax, but the two companies have been "unable to reach a satisfactory resolution," according to the gaming giant. So it's now time to lawyer-up.

Carmack has denied on Twitter that any of the code that he wrote during his tenure at ZeniMax is being used by the high-tech specs. None of his work has ever been patented, he said, and although ZeniMax owns the code he wrote under his employment, it doesn't have any rights to claim ownership of virtual reality, and his current firm agrees.

"It's unfortunate, but when there's this type of transaction, people come out of the woodwork with ridiculous and absurd claims. We intend to vigorously defend Oculus and its investors to the fullest extent," the company said in a statement.

The timing of this is certainly interesting. Facebook splashed out $2bn for Oculus in March, and now that the KickStarter-funded startup is worth a buck or two, lawyers are starting to crawl out of the woodwork to scavenge a pound or two of flesh. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.