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John Carmack Accused of Taking ZeniMax-owned VR Tech to Oculus

VRFocus - ZeniMax Media, owner of legendary videogame developer John Carmack’s former development studio, id Software, has claimed that the ex-employee took virtual reality (VR) technology from the company when he moved to Oculus Rift headset makers Oculus VR. The company is now seeking action, claiming that Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey has been used ZeniMax Media-owned technology to develop the Oculus Rift without permission.

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LiQuiZoN815d ago (Edited 815d ago )

Truth is...

If Mr. Carmack did infact come to some technological breakthroughs WHILE at work, aka being paid by ZeniMax, then Zenimax does in fact own his work and the solutions which were derived from it. I'm assuming he signed some sort of contract with Zenimax previously. Which would of stated that they had sole ownership of his work products and any derivatives, which most companies do.

I don't know the full story, but ZeniMax could be completely right in this regards.

Added note for clarification:

If Carmack came to 50% of his VR solution at work and the other 50% at home, compensation is still required, because without the support of ZeniMax's $$$ he wouldn't of had the opportunity to do either, hence they would still have at minimum, partial ownership.

alexkoepp815d ago

They just want a piece of the $2 billion dollar pie without doing any of the work

aliengmr815d ago

Yea, this is most likely the case. There really isn't some magical device that made VR work suddenly. The Rift was using off the shelf components.

starchild815d ago

Let's see the patents, ZeniMax. You don't own his mind and the fruits of his labors for all time. If he created something while working for you that you were able to patent then you might have a case.

Oculus VR already created a high quality VR headset before Carmack was ever hired. Most of the improvements we have seen since then are things that have been widely known in the VR community or were being worked on by other engineers like Michael Abrash at Valve.

Rashid Sayed815d ago

It's a shame if Carmack did this. But I highly doubt he would have done anything on purpose. He is a genius and given that he was working on the same virtual design at Zenimax and Oculus, ideas will get transferred regardless.

The question is why it took so long for Zenimax to actually claim this.

MonChiChi815d ago

"The question is why it took so long for Zenimax to actually claim this."

Most likely want to get all their eggs in one basket before going forward.

rdgneoz3815d ago

Yah, by the sounds of it they tried to settle it out of court and when that didn't happen they decided to take action.

And since many just read headlines...

"The proprietary technology and know-how Mr. Carmack developed when he was a ZeniMax employee, and used by Oculus, are owned by ZeniMax. Well before the Facebook transaction was announced, Mr. Luckey acknowledged in writing ZeniMax’s legal ownership of this intellectual property. It was further agreed that Mr. Luckey would not disclose this technology to third persons without approval. Oculus has used and exploited ZeniMax’s technology and intellectual property without authorization, compensation or credit to ZeniMax. ZeniMax and Oculus previously attempted to reach an agreement whereby ZeniMax would be compensated for its intellectual property through equity ownership in Oculus but were unable to reach a satisfactory resolution."

CarlosX360815d ago (Edited 815d ago )

The problem is ego on the part of ZeniMax. I figure they don't have the capital to fully complete this Oculus project. VR isn't cheap, which is why it was acquired for the price it did. Carmack did a favor to Zenimax.

So, it puts Carmack's name in an even better light, and at the same time, Zenimax looks better as a company to investors. But since they want to sue Carmack, hey.. They'll go through a PR fumble.

CarlosX360815d ago

Ahh. Keep the disagrees coming, trolls.

spartanlemur815d ago (Edited 815d ago )

True, but if that were the case, small, research-intensive tech firms wouldn't stand a chance against monopolistic giants (like Facebook, which the Rift might have struggled to see a release without) which benefit from economies of scale.

If a small firm puts a lot of work into perfecting one tiny element of the completed VR headset, they are entitled to their fair share of the resulting profit if it is utilised.

Of course, that's providing the claim has some merit.

CarlosX360815d ago

Yeah, and to me, this sounds like a "proof of concept" problem. VR isn't pre-established as say, mobile gaming or console gaming. Even if there are a lot of VR techs on the market, it's still hard to convince an investor this is invest-able.

Bad enough, investors won't believe in you until you make it. Which Oculus just did.

Debaitable815d ago

They waited till the merger was approved

deadfrag815d ago

Maybe because Zenimax is having cash flow problems right now;not to mention the FLOP the new The Elder Scrolls Online is since the game is already tanking on reviews and sales..the new Wolfestein will not save Zenimax from futher sink in and they had to find a way to get some cash flow..guess where!?

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Dudebro90815d ago (Edited 815d ago )

Doubtful carmack would do this.

I would love to know why people disagree.

krouse93815d ago

Doubtful based on what? His personality, or the integrity that he seems to portray? I get that people think he's a good guy, but it's not out of the question to think that he took some Zenimax patented information with him illegally.

There's reason to believe that Oculus was the easiest place for him to go with this information, but now that he's gone and made billions with it, Zenimax is understandably pissed.

Hey, I mean lets figure he left ID and Zenimax on alright terms, but the terms he left on were to work with a small start-up group, that'll be niche for a while, but not hey I'm going to go disrupt the market with this new hardware, and software, with all this intellectual property you guys own, oh and all the while make 2 billion in the transaction.

aliengmr815d ago

I highly doubt he took any physical piece of tech that was the one thing that made it all work. Sounds far more like Carmack took his ideas that he worked on while at Zenimax to OVR.

They probably had some sort of contract which detailed that whatever he did at Zenimax, Zenimax owned.

I mean, whatever was being worked on at Zenimax was most likely being worked on by Carmack. I doubt it was a situation where Zenimax had the secret to VR tucked away in their vaults only to be stolen by Carmack.

There was a story a little while ago about a small exodus of people from id that went to work for OVR. Haven't heard anything else about that so I don't know.

ninjahunter815d ago

Doubtful because hes invented more gaming technology (Software, not hardware) than anyone in the industry. Why would a man, who can make anything he wants, take from someone?

krouse93814d ago

Well I think it's one thing to provide details of information you've invented to someone but when you've done so on someone else's dollar, and you don't hold the IP (legally), than there isn't much ground for you to stand on.

I don't think Oculus (Facebook) is going to get away from this without shelling out some cash towards some sort of licensing agreement. I mean the house of Fallout and Elder Scrolls, isn't really a small company, Zenimax has some considerable industry leverage.

Mikefizzled815d ago

Its weird. Cause he might be the author of some of this stuff? He can't just forget it surely.

spartanlemur815d ago

Pragmatically speaking...if Zenimax *were* to have an equity stake in Oculus then we'd be absolutely certain to see Bethesda Softworks games be well-optimised for the platform.

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